Hey Good Looking – Are You A Presenter?

by drjim on January 12, 2009

Presenters Need To Make Sure That They Look Good During Their Presentation

Presenters Need To Make Sure That They Look Good During Their Presentation

When we deliver a presentation, we need to make the best use of all of the tools that we have at our disposal. These tools include things such as hand gestures, using pauses, and vocal variety. All too often we forget that we have one more tool for us to use: our personal style.

Life is busy and all too often too many of us just don’t take the time to look our best when we venture out into public. The reasons for this are many – we don’t expect to meet anyone that we know, we don’t think that we’re going to be out for long, or maybe we just don’t care.

It turns out that this kind of thinking opens all sorts of doors for us as presenters. If we take the time to look our best then we’ll end up being the best looking person in the room. What this means is that everyone will be looking at us. If they are already looking at us, then we’ve got half of our task taken care of!

Carmine Gallo is a communications coach who has spent a lot of time thinking about this topic. Here are some of his suggestions that will help you use this tool to it’s fullest extent:

  • Keep The Bling To A Minimum: Over time we all build up a collection of accessories. Women have a collection of flashy necklaces and too-big earrings. Men have (also) too flashy necklaces, tie holders, bracelets, etc. Remember that accessories are designed to add value to your look – not to distract from the overall package. The rule is to keep it simple and suitable for your outfit.
  • Get Some Culture: This should be something that your research for any presentation reveals to you. A suit is always appropriate – except when it’s not. Make sure that you dress in a way that matches the event or the culture of your audience. Have your dress match the expectations of your audience.
  • Smile For The Camera: As long as you are going to the effort of getting all gussied up for your big presentation, take the time to make sure that all of the photographs that are taken of you show how good you look. We can never have enough photos of ourselves when we are looking our bests. Find a professional photographer and get a formal picture taken of yourself – this will be invaluable to you later on.

All too often we end up spending all of our time researching what we want to say, how we want to say it, and what we want our audience to be motivated to do once we are done talking.

If we take the time to plan out how we are going to look for our next presentation then we’ll be ahead of the game before we even show up. Sometimes just taking the time to look at ourselves in the mirror before we head out the door can do wonders for making our presentation that more effective…!

Have you ever discovered that you owned any accessories that were too distracting to wear while presenting? Did you ever deliver a presentation where you were not dressed to match the culture of your audience? Have you ever had a bad photograph of you taken while you were presenting? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

David Portney January 12, 2009 at 12:49 pm

In the workshops and trainings I teach, I’ve experimented with various wardrobe variations (no tie, full suit, jeans instead of slacks) and I’ve found that people’s reactions seems to vary; some enjoy a more “relaxed” look (no tie, for example) whereas others do react to a full suit as being more professional. In the final analysis – and if I had to only choose one way to dress for all time – I’d have to go with more dressy rather than less dressy, and no distracting pins or other wardrobe accessories that would take attention away from the message / teaching.

David Portney

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Dr. Jim Anderson January 12, 2009 at 2:08 pm

David: good point. I gave a presentation to a college audience awhile back and I had decided to take the “casual & cool” approach – sportcoat, no tie. Well, it turns out that my host had really wanted to show the students what a “working professional” looks like (by his opnion) and he was disappointed. I guess that you not only have to know your audience, but also your host!

Remember what they say about being a speaker: always be the best dressed person in the room!

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Technocrat April 2, 2009 at 4:05 am

Its been rightly said, “FIRST IMPRESSION IS THE BEST IMPRESSION”.

It would be good, if you can add one more point as that of, Avoiding the use of strong perfume. I myself have suffered such situation, as some people tend to use strong perfume that almost put the other person in a state of headache

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Dr. Jim Anderson April 10, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Technocrat: I must confess that I had not even thought of this (probably a fault of being male). However, I think that you may have a point here. Although how you smell (or how strongly you smell), may not matter when you are up on a stage, you will undoubtedly be spending some time close to the person who invited you and overpowering them with smells would be most unkind…!

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E.G. Sebastian April 8, 2009 at 8:07 am

In my speaker training I learned NOT to wear rings, bracelets, or anything fancy that would distract the audience from my message; this included NO fancy hairdo, or crazy outfit (purple suit with green shirt, etc.)

9 times out of 10 I wear a suit and tie. I feel comfortable in it and the audience feels that they have a professional talking to them. However, some organizations tell me up-front that their event/retreat will be a more relaxed one, so “don’t over-dress.”

I’d say, though, as a speaker people want to look up to you and admire you, so it is always better to overdress than underdress.

E.G. Sebastian
Author, Speaker, Leadership Development Coach

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Dr. Jim Anderson April 10, 2009 at 7:32 pm

E.G.: You’ve hit on one of the trickiest challenges that speakers can encounter – how to be the best dressed person in the room if everyone else is “business casual”. I try to solve this problem by wearing the old standby – the sport coat. Since I’m not wearing a tie, I’m sorta business casual; however, the sport coat sets me apart from everyone else. As you said, it is always better to overdress than underdress.

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Prajna September 25, 2009 at 6:04 am

I had to make this important presentation and I had a really bad time because I made the mistake of wearing new footwear and ended up with blisters and shoebites…always wear footwear which has been “broken in” otherwise you’ll end up cringing with every step you take like I did…

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Dr. Jim Anderson September 26, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Prajna: Great point! I guess the same could be said for any new clothes – they can be itchy and have extra tags that we don’t know about the first time that we wear them…!

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