Many people from all walks of life and various disciplines confuse the terms podium and lectern.  A vast majority of individuals use the two interchangeably. Respectfully, it is a mistake to do so.  Here is the difference between the two:

A lectern is a slanted topped high desk that the speaker stands behind when delivering a speech or presentation. The lectern comes in many forms and sizes, i.e., tall, adjustable, stand alone.  Additionally, the table lectern is another, as its name implies, sits on a table. The origin of the lectern comes from professors of long-ago using this device to deliver oral lectures. Thus, we have the term lectern.

A podium is a platform on which a speaker stands on while delivering a presentation or formal speech, and the lectern sits on the podium. Many professional speakers can provide a talk without a lectern, but all speakers of every stripe go on stage (podium).

An excellent way to remember the difference – a lectern sits on a podium; a speaker stands behind a lectern.

In regards to a housekeeping note, I realize that the word lectern is overused here. However, it’s purely for example and emphasis.

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