Lectern Etiquette

There are accepted conventions of meeting protocol which are a part of a well-run meeting. While these conventions may seem overly formal, their usage contributes greatly toward a professionally-conducted meeting.

  • Try NOT to leave the lectern unattended. Always wait at the lectern until the next Speaker arrives. Shake his/her right hand and say a few words of greeting before walking away.
  • Control of the Meeting
    • Each portion of the meeting is under the control of one of the key meeting officials:
      Toastmaster of the Meeting,
      Table Topics Master, and
      General Evaluator.
      This control is symbolized by the possession of the gavel.
    • Control of a meeting is passed from one official to another by handing over the gavel whenever each key meeting official arrives at the lectern. This is called passing control of the meeting. Thus, the Chairperson passes control to the Toastmaster of the Meeting who later passes it to the Table Topics Master and then to the General Evaluator. When the gavel is handed back to each key meeting official in turn, i.e. from General Evaluator to Toastmaster to Chairperson, this is called returning control of the meeting.
    • The accepted method of passing or returning control of the meeting is for the person in control to offer the gavel with the left hand (with the handle extended) while shaking the receivers right hand.
  • Acknowledging the Chairperson
    • Whenever you take control of the meeting, you acknowledge the person who yielded control to you. This can be done by a simple thank you.
    • If you are the person yielding control, you do not sit until you have been acknowledged. For example, the Toastmaster, Lucy, introduces the prepared speaker, Richard. Lucy waits at the lectern until Richard arrives. She shakes Richards right hand and wishes him well. However, Lucy does not sit but remains standing or waits off to the side until Richard acknowledges her by saying, "Thank you, Mme. Toastmaster." Only then should she sit.
  • Applause. Whenever anyone is called to come to the lectern, applaud that person from the moment (s)he rises from his/her seat until (s)he reaches the lectern. If you are the person in control, lead the applause. This helps create a welcoming environment for anyone coming up to the lectern.