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Dress to Impress for Your Next Presentation

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What do TED speaker Amy Cuddy, image consultant Marian Rothschild and market researcher, real estate investor and style advisor Scott Dunstall have in common?

Answer: They all think you should dress better.

How an audience perceives you is half the battle when you walk out on stage. People make an assumption within the first 15 seconds of meeting a person–you only have one chance to make a first impression. Why blow that opportunity with a slovenly appearance when it’s easy to dress to impress?

No matter how intelligent a person may sound, a disheveled look will cause an uncomfortable feeling in the audience called cognitive dissonance. That last thing you want is to make your audience uncomfortable with your dress.

Gear up for greatness: James Bond dresses to impress and presenters should too.



Color is key.

Studies have shown people react better to colors that they perceive display a brand accurately. There’s that pesky cognitive dissonance at work again. If it doesn’t add up for your audience in their heads, they will be distracted–and that detracts from your message.

Business women have been making waves with power dressing. What does power dressing entail? Start by choosing power colors such as navy, dark reds or black. Really, any jeweltones are safe. Also, keep everything in solids or simple patterns.

Once again, you don’t want to distract from your message–keep it classy, both in color and form.



Gentlemen, invest in a tailor.

There’s nothing worse than a man in a suit that looks like it belongs to his father. Go the extra step and have your wardrobe crafted to fit your body. The days of rounding on suit size are over: You’re your own man. Dress like it.

Following the idea of your clothes suiting your body, they should also suit your environment. That means avoiding casual shirts, inappropriate footwear (read: tennis shoes) and obnoxious patterns.

Remember your audience. You’re dressing to appeal to them.



More and more people are consuming content online–look where you’re reading this. And much of that online content is in video form. To ignore media and video is to ignore an entire area you can connect with customers or clients through.

But if making an impression in-person is important, making an outstanding first impression in video is even more crucial–your audience can click away more easily than they can leave a theater.

Avoid being lost in the frame–don’t wear white or any patterns that may result in an optical illusion. You want to be seen but unobtrusive so they’re listening to your words instead of watching the dizzying pattern on your pants.


Getting dressed isn’t difficult–and neither is dressing to impress. Follow these simple tips and you’ll bring Broadway to the boardroom for your next presentation.

Insider tips from a TEDx coach

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