When you speak or present from the stage or virtual platform do you put effort into your visual presentation? Does it matter?
This week I recorded a presentation on Personal Brand in a Virtual Environment for an upcoming online conference. Although I wasn’t presenting “on stage” live, I still needed to prepare, deliver an engaging presentation and look the part. After all, as image and professional presence is my area of expertise, I need to be mindful of what I wear.
Do you think a presenter or speaker needs to consider the impact their visual impression makes when on stage or screen?
Once upon a time when the TED Conference was an invitation only event, I helped a client find the perfect clothes to wear to this prestigious occasion. He wanted to look the part of the other successful business leaders who were attending. He was attending as a delegate yet understood his personal brand would be on show with that audience.
Today we can watch TED in our pyjamas if we wish. Many of the presenters have also adopted the dress down code and although not quite in their pyjamas they look like they have taken little effort into their visual presentation.
If this matters to you, try these tips to SHINE your image and look good on stage.
S – Style. Dress to impress. You want to leave a positive impression on your audience with what you say, how you make them feel and how you look. It doesn’t have to be Wow – look at me – but a positive expression of the best version of you. Dress up for your audience but consider appropriateness. A smart tailored suit could be just right for a formal investor presentation or lose the jacket and wear smart business casual for a weekend conference. Do some research on your audience.
H – Hosiery or not. Sleeveless or not. If you’re on stage wearing a closed in shoe (ladies) I suggest wearing pantyhose. It is a more finished look and your legs, blemishes and all will look better. Sandals are not the best look – but it does depend on the environment. And as for bare feet! That went out in the sixties with Sandie Shaw.
A business casual look at a tropical island conference may suit an open toe sandal or peep toe shoe. Make sure shoes are clean, polished and not downtrodden. People notice! Sleeves vs no sleeves is up to you. An old “rule” was not to bare arms. The look now is definitely more relaxed particularly online. Wearing a jacket or long sleeved shirt is suitable for a formal business environment. A sleeveless dress can still look business like if the rest of your look is polished. Remember Michelle Obama?
I – Image and brand. You may have seen speakers that always wear the same colour, red, orange, hot pink or black. It is their look and part of their brand image. Humour speakers often wear bright, colourful jackets. If you do a lot of speaking or MC work have several outfits that are your “go tos” when asked to present. You could have more formal and more relaxed versions of your “look” to suit the occasion.
N – Not boring. Whatever you choose to wear, you don’t just want to completely blend in. Consider wearing a touch of colour perhaps in a shirt or top, to brighten up an all-black outfit or wear a stand out accessory that enhances your outfit. Another eye-catching accessory could be an amazing pair of shoes or an interesting belt to liven up your look.
E – Enthusiasm. You bring to the stage your energy to entertain, educate and enliven. You can’t do that if you are uncomfortable. One time when watching the TV show The Voice, the female judges both said they wear jumpsuits on stage when singing. The outfit gave them freedom to move well, not worry about any wardrobe malfunction and look great. Not suggesting you should wear a jumpsuit but do try on several outfits to make sure you can move and breathe without pulling across the paunch.
Shoes come into consideration too if you are presenting in-person. Again you want to be able to move. On stage consider how long you are there and if you can manage in high heels. Perhaps a fashionable boot might be better or if all day training, a pair of comfort mid-heel court shoes may work just as well.
I hope these few tips will help you look good on stage.
You can also learn more about personal branding with my video series: NOOK, LOOK, HOOK, 3 Ways to Build a Stand Out Personal Brand.
Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is passionate about helping business executives and entrepreneurial professionals elevate their personal brand, image and professional presence through Appearance, Brand and Communication. Sue’s suite of services delivered through workshops, consulting, coaching and keynote presentations provides a multi-faceted approach to gain high transformation for her clients.