When Speaking, Dress Like a Leader

When you speak professionally, prepare thoroughly–not just your content, visuals and delivery—but also your attire. Clients and colleagues will form an impression of you from your speech–and also from how you look.  Make it a favorable one.

A few days ago, I attended a large conference, and watched a female professional in her early 50’s address a crowd of several thousand.  She happened to be petite, which was a disadvantage because the large podium seemed to swallow her.  However, this was the least of her problems. 

Unfortunately, she chose to wear a pale pink sweater in lieu of a more traditional jacket.  She also clipped the front of her hair up with a barrette, in the way that many young girls do. The result? Although she spoke about leadership, she didn’t look like a leader–at all. And the audience didn’t pay attention–at all.

Had her content and presentation been engaging and powerful, they might have compensated for her appearance.  As it was, her attire compounded the problem, “branding” her as a non-leader. 

Your appearance matters.  Check your attire with a trusted colleague or two before you mount the platform.  Think about the color and cut of your outfit, whether there is too much pattern, and whether it is fashionable enough to be visually interesting or too staid and boring. 

Then, mount the platform with confidence!

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