I can only imagine I’d be blown away at the answer – and very much looking forward to seeing you perform your talk, facilitate your workshop, or lead your webinar.
If asked to describe why you chose the outfit you’ve chosen to wear as as you perform onstage, facilitate in a group setting or lead your webinar (because “onstage” can easily encompass all these scenarios) in one or two sentences, what would you say?
Would I “see” in your description the connection between your outfit, your Idea Worth Spreading and who you are?
This is not as far fetched as it may seem.
Most speakers and workshop leaders arrive at their ideas, and the stories that support them, via a combination of heart, soul, intelligence and painstaking work. Often the talk is built around a good portion of the speaker’s body of work.
Take Amy Cuddy for example. She is known around the world for her 2012 TED talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” which is the second most viewed talk in TED’s history. A quick scan of her bio reveals that in college, she suffered a traumatic train injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to finish school. Not surprisingly, she beat those odds.
Her phenomenally successful TED talk is one culmination (I’m sure of many more to come) of her work as a successful scientist, focusing on the power of nonverbal behavior, the delicate balance of trustworthiness and strength, and the ways in which people can affect their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
When asked why she chose the outfit she wore for her TED talk, Amy said this:
“I had agonized over what to wear. I went out and bought the most expensive dress I’ve ever bought. It was Fendi, multiple markdowns at Barneys,” she told the New York Times. “But a couple of days before my talk, I thought,‘ Why am I not going to dress like myself?’”
She opted instead for a J. Crew top and skirt, and a really cool brass choker. And now that her talk has become the second most viewed on TED.com, Cuddy is very happy that she made that decision. “Sometimes people send me screengrabs, ”she says. “When I see the still, I think, ‘That’s me.’ Source
Amy knew that the first thing she needed to do when choosing an outfit was trust herself and her instincts. And the second thing was to wear an outfit that let the audience see the real her.
Let the Audience See the Real You
If you want your message to truly be heard, you must let the audience see the real you, with no distractions. Let’s look at how you can accomplish this:
Adjust Your Attitude (if necessary) About the Role Your Outfit Will Play
While your message will ultimately carry the day, creating a “look” that marries who you are as a speaker with the idea you’re looking to spread IS important if you want the audience to not only hear you, but to ACT upon and become part of your idea.
Alexia Vernon, former facilitator of TEDx EastFremontWomen, when asked how she believed trust factored into what a speaker wears onstage, Alexia told us this:
“There’s this sense in the thought leadership space that if you think too much about your appearance you’re vain or you’re selling out – I disagree. There’s almost a sense of dismissal about how they will dress. Or on the flip side tech or science we often see the attitude of: I’m going to intentionally be super casual. I’m not going to wear a suit.”
What’s important for speakers in all spheres to get is that this is not about style for style’s sake. It’s about facilitating trust and connection with your audience and doing that your way.”
Wanting your audience (whether in person or virtual) to be touched, to be moved to action – should be the number one reason you are onstage, should it not? If your idea is worth spreading, it’s worth wanting people to take action.
Be Open to Making A Simple Internal Shift
When clients come to me stressing over choosing the right outfit to wear onstage, the stress is there because something is missing. I’ve discovered that it’s likely one (or more) of these three primary pieces that’s missing for my clients:
- They don’t give themselves enough credit or authority.
- They don’t trust themselves enough to reveal who they are to the world.
- They make choosing the outfit more complicated than it really is.
If you see yourself caught in one or more of these ways of thinking it simply means you need to shift. Which is great news because awareness is the first step – in the next post we will look at how you make that shift – and what NOT to do when you make it.
If you want to learn more about the ins and outs, dos and don’ts, where to start and how to put together an outfit that absolutely supports and advances:
- Who YOU are as a speaker
- Your message and
- The vibe of the event that’s fortunate to have you speak on it’s stage
I highly recommend my Digital Guide – Dress for TEDx Speaking Success: Garner trust and connect powerfully with your audience before you ever say a word – and long after you’ve left the stage.
Written for TEDx speakers and ANYONE who knows that part of their work in the world is to be visible: speaking onstage, facilitating workshops, making a difference through webinars – anywhere you are up in front of people sharing your message – this Digital Guide will help you gain maximum benefit from one of your most important visibility resources: your clothing.
Written by Kathleen Audet, Image Consultant and Style Coach, helping speakers around the world get ready for their idea worth spreading. YourAuthenticImage.com.