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In Public Speaking, What Does Your Visual Image Say About You?

Nancy Daniels, Voice Coach


O
ne of the best pieces of advice I give to my clients when teaching presentation skills is to always be prepared for the unexpected and that goes for your clothing as well as your visual image.



Without a doubt, what you are saying and how you are saying it are the most important aspects of your presentation; however, your visual impact can either add to your image or detract.

The last thing you want to do is dress in such a fashion that your words are not being heeded because your appearance is inappropriate.

A few years ago I was invited to speak to some business executives about voice and presentation skills and while driving to my destination, I spilled coffee on my suit. It was obvious, disconcerting, and not something I could fix before my presentation. Anxious about the stains, I opened
Unless you are a comedian, it is best to avoid garish or loud, revealing or disclosing attire.
my delivery with a humorous account of how I had spilled my coffee while trying to negotiate the rush hour traffic. Thankfully, it worked and I could then relax and deliver my presentation without worrying about my appearance. By mentioning the coffee incident immediately after being introduced, I was able to change their focus from the stains on my clothing to the more important message I was delivering.

Traveling with an extra shirt or tie or an extra pair of hosiery is certainly in your best interest; but, aside from the ‘accidents’ that can occur before you are scheduled to speak, how should you dress for your engagement?
Dress as if you were going to a job interview in which you want to look competent, authoritative and confident.

  • Dress with taste.


  • Unless you are a comedian, it is best to avoid garish or loud, revealing or disclosing attire. You want your audience’s attention on you, the professional, which means dressing in a manner with which your audience can identify. If your pants are hanging down to your knees and you are speaking to persuade a group of 50-year-olds to your way of thinking, they will not ‘hear’ your ideas, as great or novel as they may be, if they are staring at how ridiculous you look. If, on the other hand, most of your breasts are on display, you will never persuade your female audience to take you seriously unless you are selling beauty products.

    The last thing you want to do is dress in such a fashion that your words are not being heeded because your appearance is inappropriate.
    When you are scheduled to speak, the best advice is to dress as if you were going to a job interview in which you want to look competent, authoritative and confident. Public speaking is difficult enough – success in this field is much less likely with a tasteless or unkempt appearance.





    International Speaker and Voice Specialist, Nancy Daniels, has been involved in voice training since 1977. A graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in music, she discovered the techniques for improving the sound of the speaking voice while in graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C.

    In addition to her guest speaking engagements, Nancy offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice training and public speaking skills throughout the United States and Canada. For those are unable to work with her directly, there is Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on voice training, future workshops, and Voicing It!, visit her Voice Dynamic website. http://www.voicedynamic.com







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