If you’re a well prepared presenter, won’t people realize it when you start speaking and not judge you based off what you are wearing?
I hate to burst your bubble but what you wear matters because people judge you based on what you are wearing. In the business world, there is a huge return on investment for dressing well in front of people. And the stakes are even higher when it comes to being in front of an audience.
Dress up to build Trust, Credibility and Authority!
It is about trust, credibility and authority! People in your audience need to feel like you are the big boss of your presentation topic. They need to feel secure that they are giving their time to a person that is well versed in the subject matter, has credibility in the industry and is carrying herself with authority. And how do they get that impression? They get that impression when they see the presenter dressed for success!
You are the foremost expert in that room when it comes to your topic. People have given you their time and in some cases their money for the privilege of listening to you. Make sure that you give them that secure feeling. Would you expect your local branch manager to be dressed in a tanktop and shorts? We expect a banker to look a certain way. if they don’t, we feel uncomfortable. Just like, we would trust our landscaper more if he was wearing jeans and work boots. I would not trust a guy in a three piece suit to take care of my yard!
Dress up to show respect!
We dress up for events that we feel are important. Back in the 50’s and 60’s people used to dress up for airline flights. Going to a restaurant was definitely a dress up occasion. Now airline flights and eating out has become much more commonplace, so we don’t consider that an important event. You are not a seasoned presenter that gives presentations every day, (If you were, you would probably not be reading this) so dress well for this special event. Your audience is giving you a chunk of time and that is important to you as a presenter. Dress well enough to show your audience the honor and respect that they deserve.
Dress up so you feel great!
Dress well, and feel well! Wearing clothes that make you feel good is usually a good idea! You have heard the phrase,”Act like the person you want to become, not the person you are.” In the same way, I am advising you to dress for your presentation as you wish to feel not as you feel. When your presentation is a resounding success, you will really feel like the “Boss”.
How well should you dress?
Dress a little bit better than you expect your audience to dress. If you are speaking to a group of school teachers, think of how they dress and kick it up a notch. If you are speaking to attorneys, a business suit is a must! If you are giving a presentation to small business owners in July in Phoenix, business casual is probably OK. The reason for dressing up just a little better than your audience is that if you mis-judge what they are going to wear, worst case scenario will be that they will be dressed just as well as you!
If you decide to dress business casual, make sure your outfit looks expensive!
You remember how I said that people judge you by how you dress? If you have decided to dress down, at least make sure that the quality of your clothing is top notch! A discount polo shirt from Walmart does look a bit different from a polo shirt purchased at Nordstrom!
Empty all pockets!
Before you are called up to begin your presentation, empty out your pockets. Place your keys, wallet, cellphone, loose papers, pen, coins and basically everything that can weigh you down or distract you in a safe place. It can get very distracting if you hear jingling of keys and coins while you are putting on the show! Also if you are the type that does carry a lot of stuff in trouser pockets, you will feel even more liberated to not have any thing weighing you down.
Watch out for accidents!
I have had this happen to me before. It is therefore very important that I warn you so you are more careful than I was.
Spaghetti with red sauce at lunch before delivering the afternoon session can ruin your shirt and your presentation! A big part of presenting well is to be confident in yourself. If all you can think of is the stain on your shirt that would not come off, it is very hard to focus on your message. I got through that some how! But if you do have a small accident, don’t focus on it. Focus on your presentation, the annoying spot might not even be seen by the audience.
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