By Carol Hamilton
Today’s authors should be speakers, also. To become more comfortable before an audience and to allow your audience to be more at ease with you, learn to dress for success.
When you stand on a stage, the crowd sees more of your feet than they may want. Women, be sure heels aren’t too spiked. They could get caught in cracks on a wooden stage or twist your ankle on steps. Be sure you can stand comfortably for your entire session. Closed-toed shoes present a professional appearance. Toastmasters’ Past International Director, Ruth Ray, says, “No one wants to see your toes.” I’ve been known to break this rule when speaking at a women’s retreat at the beach, but only with a fresh pedicure. Men, be sure you polish your shoes. Well kept shoes give subconscious credibility. The exception would be if you use your shoes as part of your persona, like entertaining anti-bullying speaker, Michael Karpovich, who wears a different colored Keds high-top sneaker on each foot.
Let’s go to your head. Men, learn to tie a double-knotted tie so it remains centered. Otherwise a disgruntled OCD person may leap onto the stage to straighten your tie. Ladies, avoid earrings that sparkle and spin like fishing lures. Draw attention to your face so the audience can focus on what you say. The bling of your necklace should balance with the size of the crowd. Smaller crowd, simple, less flashy choker length shouldn’t distract. If your theatre is vast, sparkle close to the face will attract the gazes of the audience to your face. Avoid dangling necklaces since they shift and twist. I play too much with bracelets and large rings, so I don’t wear them. If you can leave them alone, they are acceptable.
After watching a video of a chapel presentation I gave about a trip to Israel, I noticed my upper arms looked looser than I realized. Sleeveless is no longer an option for me.
Know how your audience will dress and take it up a notch. Wear clothing you can move comfortably in. If you wear a jacket, it should be buttoned at least one button when you begin.
Once you have chosen your outfit and dressed to the best of your ability, go onto the stage and forget about how you look. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
When I was a teen, I saw the astonishing Corrie Ten Boom speak. Even though it’s been over forty years, I still remember the stories told by this wrinkled old woman in orthopedic shoes and a hair net. Lessons of forgiveness only God could instigate. Reminders to get rid of sin and let your light shine for Jesus, the One Miss Ten Boom loved the most. Her clothing was plain, but her face shone with the love of Jesus and her words of truth resonate still. I met Joni Earekson Tada in February and asked her about Miss Ten Boom’s clothing. Mrs. Tada said marketing people dressed Corrie up for photo shoots, but when she chose the clothing, it was plain.
What you wear and how you look shouldn’t be distracting to the audience, look the best you can, but in the end, it is a dynamic message that matters.
Professional speaker, Carol Hamilton, has presented school programs, women’s retreats, writing and speaking classes in six states. She will teach a continuing morning workshop, “Professional Speaking for Writers,” at St. Davids Christian Writers Conference this June 22-26.Carol serves as ACFW Pennsylvania chapter secretary. She writes for Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/christian-living-in-pittsburgh/carol-hamilton. Visit Carol at www.carolhamilton.us.