The word "lectern" is derived from a Latin word "legere," meaning to read. A lectern is a stand that serves as a support for the notes or books of a speaker, it is also sometimes referred to as an ambo, a rostrum or a reading stand. Sometimes lecterns are incorrectly called pulpits, a pulpit is a raised platform upon which a speaker stands upon, as opposed to behind.
First recorded use of a lectern was for use in religious ceremonies where the lectern was used as a place for the speaker to stand while presenting religious teaching during a church service. The sloping top of the lectern provided a convenient place for the speakers scrolls, script or book, typically the Bible.
FIRST RECORDED USE
Today, in education establishments such as schools, colleges and universities lecterns are used by teachers, and college professors, when presenting to their students. A wooden, metal or modern acrylic lectern provides the perfect place for the speaker place notes, books and cards at a convenient level for reading to a classroom of students.
In law, courtrooms commonly have lecterns that sit atop tables in addition to full-sized freestanding lecterns for clerks, lawyers, magistrates and attorneys to stand behind. Political figures use lecterns to hold manuscripts and visual aids while speaking. The president of the United States has a lectern which has a bullet-proof cap that provides some personal protection against a potential assassin.
For the professional public speaker the lectern provides a formal platform from which to address the audience
Modern lecterns may have to accommodate a multitude of technical items other than just the speaker's notes. Items such as lighting, Audio Visual equipment, computers, networking equipment, autocue and remote control.