How to Dress for a Presentation

“The apparel oft proclaims the man” 
(Hamlet, Shakespeare)

Presenters would be wise to keep that quote in mind. What you wear is often the first statement you make in any presentation!

Your goal as a speaker is to look credible and professional, but also friendly and approachable. Think about your audience and how they’ll be dressed. You’ll want to dress at that same level or one level above. For example, if you’re speaking to the executive council, you’ll want to look your spiffiest which will probably be a suit. Talking to the factory employees after their shift? They’ll probably be in very casual clothing or a uniform. My advice is not to match them, but kick what you wear up a notch to pants with a crisp shirt with the sleeves rolled up, no jacket. Get the idea?

To convey credibility and command attention, speakers need to look sharp. You can’t go wrong with this formula: wear crisp over soft or crisp instead of soft. In other words, if you’re wearing a 3-piece outfit, wear a jacket over a knit top. If you’re wearing only a top + bottom, wear a shirt instead of a knit top.

Crisp is an important concept for speakers or anyone wanting to project a professional look. What constitutes “crisp”? If it needs a iron, it’s crisp!

Two final tips:
1. If you’re not already wearing one, have a jacket available for all presentations. Better to have one handy than to try to make one appear out of thin air!

2. Check the details – shoes shined, teeth spinach-free, hair in place. Nothing should be askew as it will steal the focus away from your message.

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