In a previous article, I wrote about the difference between a podium and a lectern. As a refresher, a lectern is a slanted topped high desk that the speaker stands behind when delivering a speech or presentation. The podium is a platform that a speaker stands on while giving a presentation or formal address, and the lectern sits on the podium. Knowing about these two objects is beneficial. However, there are other structures used by individuals when delivering words to audiences. Let’s take a look at them. I will offer commentary:
ROSTRUM. Initially, it’s an animal snout or bird’s beak. The word came into being for the battering beak at a warship’s bow. A little more background, the ancient Romans used beaks from captured ships to decorate a platform from which orators could speak, called the rostra, plural of the rostrum. Research reveals that in the mid-17th century, the rostrum came to mean a platform for speeches (orations).
DAIS. Dais comes from the Old French word deis, pronounced initially with only one syllable – like days than the current day-us. Usually, the structure is high and long, giving prominence to the person on it. In a lecture hall, a professor stands on a dais for everyone to see him.
PLATFORM. If you’re standing on something higher than the surrounding area, you can say it’s a platform. Example, a train platform or viewing a historic site from a platform. A raised horizontal surface.
SOAPBOX. Originally, wooden boxes holding bars of soap. Before the invention of cardboard. Speakers on street corners used a soapbox to raised oneself above their audience. Consequently, on a soapbox has become a metaphor for stating strong opinions about a subject matter.
STUMP. There are several meanings for the word stump. For public speaking, we’re talking about the stump speech delivered by politicians. In the old days, the man or woman would stand on the base part of a tree (stump) that remains after the tree has been felled, expounding his/her views. In the modern-day, we hear the news media referring to stump speeches orated by public office seekers. However, the person doesn’t speak standing on a stump.
PULPIT. If you attend a church service and see the minister speaking from a raised platform, he’s speaking from the pulpit. Yes, the church’s stage that the minister, preacher, or other religious figures deliver words from is the pulpit.
I write this article in October 2020. The coronavirus has taken a massive toll on the global population in the number of infections and deaths. There won’t be events or in-person gatherings on a large scale for the remainder of this year; onto next year. Therefore, speeches are delivered in these difficult times by individuals sitting in a chair (or standing) behind a desk using virtual communications as a stage. The rostrum, dais, platform, soapbox, stump, pulpit, podium, and lectern are still relevant today. COVID-19 indeed changed our personal and professional lives. My thought on this is we will not have the severity of that dastardly disease forever. So, let us learn from the past, live in the present, and look to a much better, brighter future.