One of the most important aspects of presentation skills and public speaking is that we need to understand the concept of ‘attract and Not distract’.
Do we need to dress well?
The plain and simple answer is yes…..and no. While there are many aspects to presentation skills and public speaking, dressing well is certainly one of them. However, many people think that dressing well means putting on the latest designer outfits, accessories or hairstyles. Well, I personally believe that this is not absolutely necessary. What‘s more important is that we dress appropriately.
First impression counts
Yes, in presentation skills coaching, I recommend to clients that in public speaking, the first impression that you give your audience certainly counts. When you walk into a room and your audience first lays eyes on you, they immediately form an impression of you. What can I say; human beings are really judgmental creatures after all. Dressing well will certainly form a good first impression.
While designer wear might look expensive and stylish, we need to ask ourselves if it’s appropriate for the audience that we’re speaking to. Not every audience appreciates the latest fashion and therefore, that can quickly become a distraction for your audience. If this happens, instead of listening to what you have to say in your presentation, your audience will quickly go into a discussion about your outfit. Some will be critical and others may even make fun of you.
However if you’re presenting to designers or people in the fashion industry, by all means, please put on the latest garb. But keep in mind, if you wear last season’s outfit, it will quickly become a distraction. So, the principle of dressing appropriately applies.
They say that accessories make an outfit stand out. But remember, when honing your presentation skills and, we need to stand out for the right reasons.
Accessories should complement an outfit. If you wear accessories that are too big or chunky, that is a distraction. If your earrings are too big, that is a distraction, if your bracelet is too shiny, that is a distraction. The use of accessories in dressing is welcome, but they must remain appropriate and they need to attract and not distract.
KISS – Keep It Simple Silly
Can we recover from bad dressing?
While first impressions count, not all is lost if you somehow didn’t dress appropriately for the occasion. We certainly can recover from inappropriate dressing. How? Well, use your voice… and speak well.
Speaking well is an ART
I’ve attended talks where the presenter dressed really badly. He wore a torn t-shirt and tattered jeans. His hair was untidy and he was shabby. However, when he spoke, the entire room fell silent and listened to what he had to say. Why? Because he used his voice to attract, and he did not distract.
He had a warm, friendly and most importantly, confident voice. He was clear and articulate and knew exactly which words to emphasise so that he could bring out his message. His pace was well managed and he used his voice not just to tell stories, but he used his voice to paint pictures.
That’s why when I coach clients in presentation skills and public speaking skills, I always tell our clients;
Speaking well is an ART. It can be learned.
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