Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

SLAY! How can you make sure you not only feel good but also LOOK GOOD in your presentations? [Wednesdays: “Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”]

March 31, 2021

“Suit or sweater?”

“Pants or a dress?”

“Casual attire or formal attire?”

There are times when speakers worry about what clothes they should wear in their speeches or presentations.

While this type of worry is understandable, as a speaker, the last thing you need is to experience stress about your wardrobe in the hours leading up to your talk.

Selecting an outfit is one thing you can check off your to-do list early!

According to Kelly Stoetzel, TED’s content director, first impressions matter… and public speaking is no exception to that.

Even before you say your first word, the audience will make a silent judgment about you based on the way you look.

In Stoetzel’s words:

“You probably don’t want the audience’s first unconscious thought about you to be any of the following: Stodgy, slovenly, tasteless, boring, or trying too hard. If you avoid those potential traps, wearing something that makes you feel good will help you project relaxed confidence… and audiences will respond to that. Believe it or not, your clothing can earn you an audience connection before you’ve even spoken a word.”

So… what can you do to avoid experiencing any wardrobe malfunction or being judged by your audience negatively because of your choice in clothing?

There are 3 things you should think about when choosing an attire for your public speaking engagement:

  1. Style

    In the words of George Clinton, an American singer-songwriter and record producer:

    “Style is whatever you want to do, if you can do it with confidence.”

    There is no doubt that substance is key to every speech or presentation―you can’t get away with weak content and cover it up by just looking good.

    However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be mindful of how you look in front of your listeners.

    Beyond the message you want to convey, the style you bring on stage is also significant because of 2 main reasons:

    One, your appearance is part of the audience’s first impression about you.

    Two, looking good also gives you confidence to face the attendees of your talk and effectively get your message across.

    If you’re not so sure about what you should wear on the actual day of your presentation, you may ask the organizer of the event where you’ll be speaking if there’s a dress code.

    Remember: When in doubt, ASK. There’s nothing wrong or shameful about it!

    Doing so will help you plan your outfit well so that your appearance won’t look too “out of place.”

    If in case the event organizer tells you that there’s no dress code, then you just have to stick to your personal branding―wear clothes that uniquely represent you and are consistent with your reputation as a speaker.

  2. Comfort and Practicality

    There is no sense looking great if it negatively affects your performance.

    Just as you think about your style, you must also consider the level of comfort a particular outfit gives you.

    Ask yourself:

    “Will my outfit allow me to move freely as I demonstrate my points or do some gestures to make my topic more understandable?”

    Additionally, you don’t necessarily have to buy new clothes every time you deliver a speech or presentation.

    Be practical! Your clothes can still look good as new with proper care and handling. Besides, your audience won’t even pay attention to whether or not your attire is newly bought―they’re there to listen to your talk and not just scrutinize how you look.

    Style, comfort, and practicality don’t have to be separate from one another.

    Always keep in mind that no matter what type of speech or presentation you’re going to deliver, it’s important to wear a decent attire that you feel great in.

    By “decent,” we mean appropriate to the event or occasion where you’re speaking and at the same time, comfortable enough to not distract you from delivering your message to your audience.

  3. Message

    You also have to consider the kind of message you want to convey with the type of clothes you wear.

    Let’s use Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, as an example.

    Zuckerberg is normally a t-shirt-and-hoodie-guy because it fits with his “non-corporate, accessible techy image.”


    However, when he was asked to appear before the US Congress to answer questions about data privacy issues on Facebook, he knew he had to temporarily move away from his usual attire and wear a presentable suit and tie.


    Like Zuckerberg, you also have to be conscious about the message your outfit is conveying.

    How do you want your audience to view you as a speaker?

    Do you want them to remember you as…

    … humorous?

    … professional?

    … relaxed?

    Take note that even the colors of the clothes you wear also have a bearing. This is why you really have to choose your attire carefully.

Here are some additional DOs and DON’Ts in planning a public speaking outfit:

  • Have a dress rehearsal before your actual presentation. Doing so will help you decide whether or not you’ve chosen an outfit wisely.
  • Ask your trusted friend to do a 360-degree check on you while you’re wearing your presentation outfit. This is because sometimes, other people are capable of pointing out things that we don’t easily see when we look at ourselves in front of the mirror.
  • As much as possible, avoid wearing clothes with striped patterns when you expect to be on air. Stripes cause havoc on the eyes and camera due to the creation of a moiré pattern, an optical effect where interfering patterns compete with each other for visual dominance.
  • Don’t worry too much about your look. Focus on your message—that should be your top priority. It’s always good to make sure you look presentable and confident, but also keep in mind that your audience won’t really hold your presentation attire against you or dwell on it for a long time.

With all these tips above, the most important thing is to wear something that helps boost your confidence on stage.

Planning your presentation outfit is one of the things you can control in advance. Doing so will give you one less thing to worry about and one more thing working in your favor.

Another tip: Don’t overthink. There are just 2 things you need to do:

First, make an early commitment to an outfit you’ll feel great in and second…

… focus more on the content of your talk and not on your clothes.

Take note of these tips to help you look good and feel good in your next speech or presentation!

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”

In a meeting with one person

…a boardroom with five people

…or a huge venue with hundreds of people

—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.

No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.

What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?

Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.

The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.

(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)

Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.

Have that advantage.

Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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