What To Wear For A Presentation: Your Ultimate Presentation Outfit Style Guide
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Before you take the stage for your next presentation, let’s raid the closet and pick an outfit that will have your audience impressed and make you standout like the thought leader you are.
What you wear is important as it will have a long-lasting impression with your audience. The clothing you wear is one of the first things your audience will see and if you’re not wearing the appropriate outfit, you will not receive the appropriate reaction.
But we’re beyond judging people for what they wear, aren’t we?
Why Your Outfit Matters For A Presentation
Now, we are in a new age where judging one another for what they wear is no longer tolerated but it is embedded in our nurtured upbringing that has us forming conclusions in our subconscious before we even know it.
Psychology plays a role in presentations. Whether it’s the colors we choose for our slides, how we use our body language to communicate, the presentation aids we use and right down to clothing on our backs, each element of a presentation needs to be carefully curated for our intended audience.
What To Wear For A Casual Presentation
Let’s begin with an outfit good for any occasion.
Throughout your career, you’ll be faced with both formal and informal presentations. More often than not, you’ll be presenting more informal presentations than formal. With the frequency being higher for informal or casual presentations, we need to make sure your closet is well equipped for the occasion.
To be clear, there is nothing too defining of a casual presentation other than that the timing you have to prepare is essentially non-existent and it’s usually presented to a smaller audience. Casual presentations can spring up at any time so the outfit you wear should really reflect who you are on a regular basis.
A casual presentation outfit should be one you feel confident in. It should speak to your character and ensure that you’re not portraying to be someone you’re not. Although we prefaced earlier that your presentation outfit should be adapted to the audience you’re presenting to, it’s going to be quite difficult to do that with a casual presentation as these types of presentations just spring up.
Your natural sphere of influence will help dictate how you dress for a casual presentation as this is the audience you’ll likely be presenting to.
If you spend most of your time in an office environment, a business casual outfit might be the right outfit.
If you’re a trades professor teaching young apprentices how to master a trade, then dirty overalls might be the casual presentation outfit for you.
What To Wear For A Presentation In University
Throughout your university studies, you’ll be required to present individually and in groups from first year to your final year seminars. Depending on the class, you might even be graded on your outfit. For example, many courses in BBA programs require you to present in business formal attire as if you were out in the real world.
Depending on the class, the requirement might be different, but it never hurts to be the best dressed person in the room.
You’ll want to draw inspiration from the real word and dress either business casual or business formal.
Unlike the real world where you’ll be earning “adult money”, in university you need to be savvy on a budget. Consider shopping at chain stores like H&M and Zara where you can suits and dresses which aren’t brand names yet are still fashionable.
You’ll want to avoid anything too flashy like a red dress. Although it’s important to attract attention and keep your audience engaged, you don’t want them to be distracted with your outfit.
What To Wear For A Business Presentation At Work
You’ve graduated from university and are now working in the corporate world.
Depending on the industry you find a job in, your employer will have different dress code expectations. You’ll likely be asked to dress either business casual or business formal.
We’ve broken down the two into their own categories to help you better understand each one.
Business Casual Outfit
With most companies adopting a business casual dress code, you’ll likely be placed in a work environment that adopts a business casual outfit approach.
Business casual takes the key elements and ideas of a business formal outfit such as neutral tone colors and dress pants while getting rid of the signature elements like a suit jacket.
However, if you’d still like to add a bit of flair to your outfit, both men and women can throw a sports blazer on top and keep it unbuttoned or do up the second button to keep it interesting.
Business Formal Outfit
Business formal outfits are timeless.
For the men, a classic, old-fashioned navy suit would be your best outfit for a business formal setting.
For the women, you can’t go wrong with a skirt and a blouse. Feel free to swap the skirt with dress pants should you feel more comfortable wearing pants.
Don’t be afraid to accessorize your outfit as well. As boring as the corporate world may seem, it doesn’t have to be completely boring.
Consider adding a watch or some jewelry to add a pit of pop and personality to the outfit. They can act as great icebreakers and speaking points and also act as a sign of success.
What To Wear For A Presentation At A Conference
Depending on the conference, you’re best to wear a business casual outfit or a business formal outfit with a few exceptions.
The exceptions being modifications to your outfit depending on the venue.
Unlike a business meeting which may be done in a corporate office with standard office lighting, a presentation at a conference might have a stage, professional lighting and unique presentation aids such as green screens should the presentation be recorded for a later date.
If the venue has stage lights, avoid wearing a shiny suit. Instead, opt for a matte finish option.
If your venue has a background such as black curtains, avoid a black suit. You’ll appear to be a floating head in videos and images.
With the advancement of technology, more presentations are being held as virtual presentations. With a video conference you can get away with less by only worrying about what will be seen in the frame such as your shirt, hair or blouse.
At the end of the day, your outfit is only part of the many presentation aids you can incorporate into your presentation to make it stand out.