So why was she (and others) being given this advice?
It turned out that the advice was being provided by a specialist Audio-Visual company, and from their point of view, holding on to the lectern makes for a successful presentation. Why? Because that way they know where to focus the lighting for maximum effect, and they can control the acoustics through the microphones and amplification. And indeed, it is important for any speaker to know what sound and lighting arrangements are in place to make sure that they can be seen and heard.
However, these requirements shouldn't constrain you in the way that you present. Imagine your favourite actor giving a speech whilst keeping their hands and feet absolutely still. Or a singer not being able to move to the music whilst performing. A huge percentage of the their impact is lost. It's the same for a presenter or public speaker. The way you look, the way you move, the way you use gesture all contribute to how much of the audience's attention you command.
And if you are using AV equipment, rather than be tied down by it, work with the specialists to find ways to free you from those constraints, and to be your expressive, mobile, charismatic self.
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