Wardrobe selection is crucial to creating the right impact when speaking. But what areas do you need to address? We asked Image Consultant Pippa Rees, from New Self Personal Branding Consultants, how to deliver a speech in style.
Tell us about yourself...
I'm in the business of personal branding. I'm interested in helping people maximise their impact by improving the way they dress, speak and behave.
Why is image so important?
We believe what we see, more than what we hear. 55% of the impact we create is based on how we look, 38% on what people think of us, and only 7% on what we actually say.
People will tune out from what you're saying if what you're wearing is too distracting. It's about maximising the impact of your speech by making the way you look match what you are saying.
What can we do to improve our image?
Being appropriate to your situation is critical. The key is to raise your game one level above what you would wear every day. If you wear jeans, you would go for smart-casual. If you wear smart-casual, you would go for business-formal. Dressing differently signals the importance of what you are saying.
If it is a formal setting, you should definitely be wearing a suit. And this is not just any old suit. It must fit perfectly and look fantastic. The end of your tie must sit at the top of your trousers and your shoes must be spotless. You must be well groomed and if you're a woman, you've got to wear make-up.
How important are colours?
Colours are very important. If you want to come across as authoritative and powerful, wear high contrasting colours.For example, a dark suit, a white shirt and a red or burgundy tie.
Tie colour here is interesting as a red or burgundy tie makes the lips look redder, drawing people to your mouth and to the words you are saying.
What do you think are the pitfalls?
The main pitfall is not being prepared. If you don't know your audience or the place you're speaking, you will have problems. You won't get your personal branding correct and your speech could be a disaster.
Is this applicable to life and not just public speaking?
Completely. Within 10 seconds of meeting someone, you have decided fundamental things about them and their lifestyle. Rightly or wrongly, it doesn't matter, it's what we do. We stereotype people based on what we see and if people make the wrong impression of you it takes a long time to correct it.
Who do you think manages their image well?
The most memorable person at the moment is Barack Obama. He always looks immaculate, and so does his wife. It's about being understated but elegant. He motivates and engages the audience, has warmth and sincerity and has tonnes of confidence and charisma and this is all backed up by the image he projects.
Choose an outfit that makes you feel fantastic
Dress smarter than you would every day
Be yourself and be congruent to your true image
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