What to Wear at Your Next Business Presentation

…(or what not to wear) at your next business presentation.

In any situation you have only 90 seconds to create a good first impression. Research shows that 93% of the impact of a first impression is formed on non-verbal communication i.e. how we speak and how we look and behave. So as you stand in front of your audience you need to ensure you are giving the right signals.


Consider what you want your image to say about you against what it currently says about you.

List 5 adjectives to describe your company or business and then see if your business wear matches that.

Friendly or approachable : means avoid a severe look

Innovative : means current, up-to-date

International : could mean a change from dressing head to toe in M&S!

Creative : means dressing with some imagination

Efficient : means not forgetting one element of grooming

Now the ‘must’ rules

Look at the whole picture and check every element of your appearance, starting at your head and ending at your feet.

Hair – Does it look well groomed or are you having yet another bad hair day? If so, get a good haircut and learn how to style it.

Make up – Under strong lighting looks can dull and it is essential that you do not loose eye contact with your audience.

Ladies – make-up is essential for the right impact as it shows attention to grooming and detail.

Men – consider using powder and a little eye make-up to give definition if you are speaking on-stage under strong lights (actors and politicians do!)

woman in blouse and trousersThe outfit

Make sure you are entirely comfortable and feel confident in what you are wearing as all eyes will be on you.
Choose an outfit that is appropriate to what you are speaking about. Avoid anything too tight as it will only detract attention from what you are saying and all eyes will be on your unsightly bits. A looser fit is more flattering and can make you look 10 pounds thinner.

If you have figure challenge don’t draw attention to it. A paunch on a man is best hidden by buttoning a good fitting jacket. Women should avoid wearing items such as front opening blouses, shirts etc if they are full busted; you want to avoid any possible exposé’s.

It’s worth checking what colour the stage set is and if possible compliment or contrast with it to avoid blending into the background.

Make sure the colour you wear compliments your skin tone, hair and eye colour and does not over power you. If you are petite a brighter colour may help you to stand out in front of a large audience.

What’s seen

Check your outline. Remove everything from your pockets and anything distracting that dangles or jangles when you move.

Polish your shoes as these are often at eye level and make sure you are not noted for being ‘down-at-heel’.


If you wear glasses ensure they have nonreflective glass in them in order to avoid the lights bouncing off the lenses and losing eye contact.

Always take a spare outfit, particularly if you happen to be accident prone or if you are speaking after dinner as you may just find that the gravy has mysteriously jumped onto your tie.

Never travel a long distance in the outfit you are speaking in. You can always slip to the loo to change. Nothing looks worse than a speaker who looks as if they have slept in their outfit.

Finally, consider who you are speaking to and how they will be dressed. But be warned, dressing down can be fatal! Ask what the dress-code for the event is but always stay on the smart side of casual. You will never offend anyone by being smart.

This article was supplied by image matters , the corporate division of color me beautiful.

Here are a few more ideas

We get asked a lot what should be worn for presentations.

“All the world is a stage and we are just players on it” said Willaim Shakespeare. When you are on stage people will be observing you closely. You need to create the right impression.

Here are some of our hints and tips about how you can chose what to wear.

1. Polish your shoes. If you are up on a stage – your shoes will be at their eye level. We hear a lot of articles about being half dressed. A lot of people dress up well and don’t clean their shoes. Fatal.

2. Smart or casual? The modern trend for dressing down makes it very difficult to know what to wear. Our advice is simple – it generally it always pays to dress on the smart side. If all the audience is going to dress down – dress down yourself, but be on the smarter end.

3. Take a spare outfit. Take a spare tie or even a spare shirt (blouse) or even a spare suit (dress). If you are presenting after dinner you don’t want to get caught out by a bit of gravy or sauce falling onto your tie. If it can go wrong it generally will.

4. Check on the colour of the background. Lots of conferences dress the set up in a particular colour. Find out what colour the background id and wear a complementary colour. If you are a woman you do not want to wear a red dress on a purple background. Men have less to worry about – mainly just the colour of the tie.

5. Don’t dress like Buford P Fuddwakker.Buford P Fuddwhacker

If you do not know who Buford is then I suggest that you visit his web site www.fuddwhacker.com

6. Empty your pockets. You don’t want coins clinking in your pockets while you walk around on stage.


Published On: 14th Mar 2016

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