For men and women, your image in presentations is vital to get right, not only to make a good first impression, but also to help keep your audience focused throughout. So what should you wear?
You want to feel comfortable. Start thinking about it well in advance, to avoid last minute clothing tantrums – your clothing should be the least of your worries. You want to dress appropriately, and look authoritative, so I recommend you’re at least a notch or two smarter than your audience. This will often mean your best suit, or the equivalent for women. Check well in advance that it’s clean, pressed well and no buttons missing or hanging hems – don’t leave this task to the morning of the presentation. Choose a crisp shirt in a colour that suits you, and likewise with your tie (btw, check that it’s spotless).
When deciding on your clothing, think of your audience. Who are they? Think how you would like to be perceived, as opposed to what you fancy wearing. Consider the temperature of the room – nerves can make you hot anyway, but being cold makes your mouth seize up.
If it’s a big presentation, I recommend wearing something bright and plain; a large audience may not be able to see your face easily, so give them something to focus on – something colourful – your tie or a bright top. When they’re looking at you the chances are they’re listening, so make it easy for them. Avoid striking patterns, this can sometimes have the opposite effect and be distracting.
Above all keep your outfit simple, professional and flattering. Remember your presentation isn’t about your clothes – it’s about your message and how you get it across.
“When a woman is badly dressed you notice her clothes; when a woman is well dressed, you notice the woman.” – Coco Chanel