When your mission is to impress and inform an audience, then it's typically a good plan to know what to wear when you give a speech. Because you have a lot to do in your speech, and you don't need any distraction. That's something that Her Majesty the Queen might consider with the Queen's Speech to Parliament. Not least because her choice of headgear always gets a comment, as did Catherine McKenna's choice of headgear for a speech in Ottawa. And, of course there was a very good reason for her Majesty's choice at her second Queen's Speech of 2019.
So, to help you be fully prepared for your next conference speech or your New Year leadership speech, here are four top tips. Because whatever happens, you want to be prepared and confident.
Be one step ahead of your audience. So if your audience is likely to be wearing business attire, then you should do likewise. Just make it really smart, with plenty of polish, perhaps? And, if your audience is casually dressed, then aim to be a bit smarter. Perhaps a jacket might be an option? When you make these decisions of course it really does help to know your audience beforehand.
Dress for power and prestige. There really is no surprise with all the ceremonial attire that people wear at important functions since it's about power. Smart clothes, uniforms, sweeping robes or the Queen wearing a crown at the Queen's Speech. And the lesson for the rest of us? Audiences respond well to smartness and tidiness, so who are we to ignore it? Albeit, we do note that the Boris Johnson hairstyle is reverting to type after its smart appearance at the 2019 manifesto speech. Still, he's as aware as anyone on the matter of what to wear for a speech.
Dress for confidence, because that really is very important. Yes, you want to impress. Yes, you want to be a step ahead of your audience. But you also must feel confident. Therefore, if you don't feel confident and comfortable wearing a suit for the very first time, then perhaps you should think of something else. We only have to recall a Steve Jobs presentation to note how you don't need a suit to be the smartest person in the room. Your confidence will always be key, so focus on it.
Dress for comfort. Of course you want to be smart and look the part. However, you also want to be comfortable. So, don't buy a new pair of shoes when you have to give a conference speech. Just polish those old ones that are really comfortable. And, if you intend to wear a collar and tie, then do consider your neck size. How tight does that collar really feel when you are speaking for half an hour? Similarly, is there enough wriggle room in your jacket as you move around the podium or show off some props?
We noted that Catherine McKenna had inspired plenty of comment with her choice of headgear for a speech in Ottawa. We can only add one point. If you plan to use a prop, then practise with it beforehand. For this speech Canada's Infrastructure Minister was clearly a novice at wearing a builder's hat.
Now that you have some ideas on what to wear when you give a speech, you can also discover plenty of other public speaking tips with our series of top tips. And with more than 100 tips already published, there really is something for every event. Plus, when you are ready to boost your own public speaking skills, then you'll find training or coaching always works. So, when the time is right, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
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