As speakers we know our personal presentation is important. People will almost always see us before they hear us. Our visual image is the real introduction to our topic and our mood. Our stage style is the real reason why our audience will say ‘you had me at hello’!
We put hours, days even months into our content, yet much less into the presence that will introduce and frame our message. The biggest problem I see is speaker’s with a visual image doesn’t match their content. This has a profound affect on our audience and will even, subconsciously, drive them to support or negate your entire presentation.
From style to structure and even colour, our visual image can will either strike-through our message or underline it, put it in bold and add a dozen exclamation marks!
Here are some common do’s and don’ts to think about when you’re styling up for your next run of keynotes.
Being On Brand
DO – Do consider that every time you’re on stage (whether it’s for 10 people or 10,000) it’s your brand on show. As speakers we are often creative souls and discipline isn’t our best friend. But you must be disciplined with your brand on stage. It’s a red flag if you’re getting ready one morning thinking, ‘oh I always wear that, I might change it up today…’. Stick to the brand every single time.
DON’T – Don’t be afraid to wear things more than once. This is not the time to think I wore that at last weeks preso in Singapore, I can’t wear it again. You sure can. It’s good branding.
DO – Choose clothes that stay unwrinkled on stage. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often is see wrinkles on stage. There’s an interesting psychology around wrinkled or oversized clothes. We see it as being incapable and untrustworthy.
DON’T – Wear linens or materials that wrinkle when you sit down in them for a while. If you’re flying in for your keynote either bring your stage outfit and change or wear something that will stay clean and unwrinkled for the journey.
DO – Do consider wearing something other than black. The colour of a garment is far less likely to make you look thinner than the structure and cut of the garment is. You look the same size in black as you do in blue, green or yellow. It’s not safe, it’s boring.
DON’T – Don’t allow yourself to get lost on stage. Most larger stages have black floors, black wings and black backdrops. I see so many pictures of speakers from their recent event and I struggle to find them on stage. Cloaked in black against a black background. As an audience member if I look away and then look back to find you and have to look around I’m actually losing the impact of your story. Don’t disappear on me. You didn’t get up there not to be seen.
My Eyes! My Eyes!
DO – Do ensure that I can see you. Block colours are great for stage. Well fitted garments look sharp without distracting the audience. Small patterns can work well. They can show that you’re quirky yet be small enough to disappear on stage so that the audience can concentrate on you.
DON’T – Don’t overwhelm your audience with loud, colourful clothing. If your clothing is louder than you are your message could be lost. Remember, every time your audience member uses their internal monologue they can’t hear what you’re saying. Your brand can be bright and dramatic without being overwhelming and distracting.
Your wardrobe is as much a tool of the trade as your headset mic and clicker. When you’re consciously delivering a visual experience for your audience that includes a well-constructed outfit, not only will you look the part but you’ll feel the part too.
As part of your preparation see yourself as the message you’re about to deliver. Imagine the way your audience wants and needs to see you. Get in their head, feed them visually first and the message you deliver audibly will be so much more delightfully received.