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Presentation Skills: Appearance and Executive Presence


There are three elements making up Executive presence, that immediate impression when you walk into a room for a meeting: confidence, organisation and appearance.

The ingredient that is potentially the easiest to “fix”, yet often overlooked is image. Now before you think “this is a girlie thing” wait a minute…

When you’re speaking, no matter what the topic or the goal, you need to look the part. Why? Because (rightly or wrongly) people judge you on what you look like, way before you’ve even opened your mouth to give your well practised and rehearsed presentation!

We’ve spoken about body language previously, so what else is there? Think about the way that you look, the style, the neatness, and the put-togetherness.  If you don’t know what styles suit you then go to an expert as you would for any other part of your professional career – ask someone who knows! There are even experts in colour analysis to guide you in what works with your skin tones and what messages certain colours may say.

What not to wear when giving a business presentation:

  1. Items of jewellery or pockets full of change that tempt you to “fiddle”.  Generally “fiddling” in public does not enhance your executive presence!
  2. Dangly things like lanyards or necklaces that distract the audience every time you move. Worse still; the audience’s eyes might be transfixed!
  3. Revealing clothing distracts the audience – Women; before you go out, lean forwards in front of a mirror and decide if the view is appropriate!
  4. Tight clothing is not only bad for breathing but has a high chance of disaster! Practice moving about and sitting down in your outfit to ensure there is no potential for embarrassing rips.
  5. Ill-fitting clothes can jump out on you unexpectedly! If you like to dust off your “best suit” for presentations please do it early!  Your recent holiday or fitness drive may have changed your waistline…time to go shopping!

So consider what your topic is and how you want people to perceive you when you’re speaking. Wear your attire options carefully.  After all, a world leader doesn’t walk into a room in casual wear, and neither should you. That said, Steve Jobs would walk into a room in a turtleneck and jeans, so if your company fits with that attitude, your choice of outfit might be different to the standard executive wear.

If you would like to learn how to master these and other business presentation skills then take a look at our professional presentation skills training courses or contact us today.  We work with comapanies and individuals that want to see fast results and a step change in either their own or their teams presentations skills.

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