No matter how important the content of your presentation is, it’s meaningless if your delivery is not engaging and compelling. Research has confirmed that 93 percent of your communication impact comes from how you look and sound, which is what your delivery is all about. I have captured the seven key delivery skills a speaker should master with the acronym S.P.E.A.K.E.R.
Resting Places for Your Hands
This article is about the A for “Appearance.”
When you’re in front of a room, does your appearance command attention, give you credibility, imbue you with power? Or is it weak, sloppy, uncertain? How you appear to your audience has an impact on your believability and how receptive they’ll be to your message. And while most of the other points in my SPEAKER acronym also deal with some aspect of appearance, I created this category to deal with two very specific subsets of your appearance: attire and distracting mannerisms. The focus of this article is on Attire.
Looking good. In today’s business casual world, the traditional business suit is far less common than it used to be. But just because business casual has become the predominant dress code, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to look your best.
When you’re standing in front of a group, with several sets of eyes focused on you, it’s not the time to wear the pants that are a little snug, the panty hose with a run in it, or the shoes that are scuffed. At the very least, your garments should be clean, pressed and well-fitting. Don’t choose an outfit based on what looks good, but rather on what makes you look good.
Fabric choices. To stay cool, literally, don’t wear heavy material and make sure you wear a fabric that breathes. Polyesters and other man-made fabrics don’t breathe and will make you sweat all the more. Stick with natural fabrics: cotton, wool, silk.
Appropriateness. Consider what’s appropriate for the audience and the occasion. What’s fitting to a board of directors is not the same as what’s suitable to a group of construction workers in jeans and flannel shirts. Remember that a jacket is the great equalizer: take it off if you feel over-dressed; throw one on if you need to upgrade your look.
Remember this great business casual guideline: the more skin that’s exposed, the more casual the look. Therefore, a sleeveless top is more casual than short sleeves, and short sleeves are more casual than long sleeves. A short skirt is more casual than a long one. Sandals are more casual than shoes. Even in your casual attire wardrobe, you can still make choices that are more professional than others.
Color. While black or navy is often considered a “power color,” the fact is many of us don’t look good in those colors. If you choose a color that’s complimentary to your skin tone, hair and eye color (either warm tones or cool tones), you’ll find that you’ll look better. Poor color choices can either wash you out or literally clash with your coloring, which will not enhance your appearance in front of a group.
Keep in mind that whenever you wear two contrasting colors, such as dark pants with a light shirt, you are essentially cutting yourself in half. This creates the illusion of a shorter, wider figure. If you want to cut a taller, more slender figure, then choose the monochrome look, a top that matches the pants or skirt in color.
If your clothing choices make you look good, then you’ll feel good. And if you feel good, you’ll perform well. And audiences will love you.