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Public Speaking Tips - Looking Good

Updated on October 8, 2009

Do I Wear a Tshirt or a Tie?

Whenever you are talking in public, its very public. Its not just what your audience can hear that is on show - everything your audience can see is also on show!

So we need to ensure that what you are wearing is both appropriate for the occasion and is comfortable enough to give you some inner confidence. How can we do that when you are already dreading getting up in front of this audience? A colleague of mine recently suggested a system that works for him - always dress 1 level above your audience. This means that if his audience are wearing tshirts, he would wear something considered casual but dressy; if they are wearing dressy casula, he wears a collar and tie. He finds that the audience then feels that what he has to say is worth listening to.

I don't mind what method you use to decide on what to wear, I do think it's a very important decision that has to be made well before the day of your speech.

Why? Your mind should be totally focused on what you are speaking about, not have a niggling worry that you should have worn something else.

How? When you are thinking about the occasion at which you are making your speech, think about the audience and what they will be wearing, decide on what you will wear that is both appropriate and comfortable, make the decision and then don't think about it again. If you continue to worry about what you are wearing or are uncomfortable in what you have chosen, your discomfort will add to your nerves and then we'll be back on the path to a poor performance.

What else? Have a practice run. Wear the clothes you have chosen when practising your speech - it may be that they are not as comfortable for this purpose as you thought. Be particularly careful of clothes that have many pockets. It's likely you are used to putting your hands in these pockets without thinking about it and this action may detract from your speech in a more formal setting.

We all still judge by appearance first, so don't let that first impression be one that you have to work extra hard to overcome when making your speech.

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