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How to Light a Podium

Philippa Jones

A podium is the focal point of a conference, presentation or workshop. It is the stand where the speaker positions himself to speak, in front of an audience. Not only are the height of the column and the microphone set up important features, but also the lighting. Lighting is directed at the podium and speaker to make them clearly seen by the audience, while minimizing unnatural shadows and glare. Normally, stage lighting is used by professional technicians to light a podium. However, beginners can learn some lighting tips to light a podium, too.

Speakers often address crowds from behind a podium.
  1. Set up a reading light for the speaker, on the podium itself. This will enable him to read his speech more easily. Attach a small, movable lamp that has a strong beam of light on top of the podium.

  2. Switch the lamp on, angle it to its needed position, and then walk around the front of the podium.

  3. Check to see if the lamp is hidden from view, and whether or not the light is clearly visible. Change the angle of the lamp head until the lamp is hidden, or attach it to the podium neatly. This means that it is not distracting, and the light does not shine brightly back at the audience.

  4. Rig three spotlights from the ceiling above the podium, and angle them in a triangle around the podium. This creates a pool of light for the podium to sit in, in order to optimize the lighting on the speaker.

  5. Dim the lights to soften the lighting level, and minimize the reflective glare. The podium should not be uncomfortable to look at. It should give a subtle lighting finish. Dimming the lights will achieve this.

  6. Place a spotlight on the floor in front of the podium. Open the barn doors -- or its flaps-- to a 45-degree tilt. Switch on the light and direct the light at the base of the podium. This highlights the front of the podium, so that it becomes a focal point of the conference facility.

  7. Get a friend to help, by asking them to stand in the position of the speaker next to the podium. Switch on the spotlight and reading lamp. Review the lighting from different angles within the room.

  8. Check that the lighting is strong enough to highlight the podium and speaker, while remaining subtle to the audience. Turn the lights up or down, until you find the right level that also works with the natural light of the room.