Designing Lecterns to Accommodate Today’s Technology

The layout of “technology lecterns” is always an issue. The challenge is most every user has a different opinion! Grouping requirements to create a lectern that satisfies the most users is no easy task, but there are fundamental questions that should always be considered including:

Size: How large should the lectern be to accommodate the equipment? Or rather, how small can it be? Once you address the functionality concerns, it can be difficult to find space for everything and maintain a small form factor. However, as audiovisual switchers with built in audio amplifiers have become more common and control system processors have decreased in size, and through the judicious management of space, making everything fit is becoming more realistic.

Functionality: User accessible equipment such as: connections for a laptop’s power, network, video and audio (or a dedicated desktop computer); a combination DVD/VCR player; a document camera; a control system touch panel; lectern microphone; storage space for a wireless microphone or other items should reside in the lectern. Ancillary equipment that supports the source equipment can be located either in the lectern or in a remote rack. Finally, space should be provided for the presenter’s notes, papers, books, etc.

Security: This is not just the physical theft of technology equipment but also keeping well-intentioned users from “adjusting” controls or cabling, which can ultimately disable the equipment. We need to maintain good security yet make the AV technology readily available. This further supports the idea of providing two equipment racks in the lectern: one rack for technical equipment behind a locked cabinet door; the second in an opening with rack mounted user accessible equipment. This allows the source equipment to be readily accessible without compromising equipment security.

Aesthetics: What will the lectern look like? What finish will it have? Historically, technology lecterns were often added after the fact and the finish was given little consideration. Today’s lecterns are typically coordinated to match other furniture in the room and in some cases except for a few items protruding over the top, look little different than a non-technology lectern.

ADA Requirements: All technology equipment that is accessible to standard presenters should reasonably be accessible to disabled presenters. This can be accommodated in a variety of ways since the ADA only requires that each user have the same experience not necessarily use the equipment in the same fashion. For instance instead of using the fixed touch panel mounted on the lectern surface, a wireless touch panel could be provided.

While we have not addressed every issue here (such as lectern mobility) the above provides a good starting point when developing a solution that works for the majority of your users.