I entered the training room full of anticipation for the upcoming session. The publicity for the training had been top-notch, and the quality of speakers was on point. I was really interested in the topic and looked forward to an opportunity to learn from industry experts. After what seemed like ages, the room filled up, and the first speaker was introduced.
The moderator began, ‘Let’s welcome Miss X… she’ll be speaking on the topic…’ That was the last I heard for that session.
Her appearance completely distracted me. Miss X was a beautiful young professional widely known for her oratory skills. As a trainer, I was particularly interested in learning a tip or two from her but today was probably not my lucky day.
I would like to believe that she spoke well as usual because, although I was seated in the front row, I barely assimilated enough to take notes.
My eyes kept wandering to her brightly coloured hair; bare arms, revealing floral dress which was at least 8 inches above her knee and the classy gold high heel sandals she was struggling to keep her balance on.
Although I didn’t meet my objective for attending the training session, this experience, coupled with years of training delivery, inspired me to share some dressing tips for presentations.
Trainers, like most other working professionals, don’t have the luxury of dressing however they like. Although it isn’t fair to judge a book by its cover, but it happens everywhere you go.
Outer appearances tend to make strong impressions and trainers are often judged based on their looks.
According to Forbes, “You can’t not communicate. Everything you do makes some kind of statement.”
Research your audience: To a large extent, the community and target audience of your training determines what outfit is appropriate.
Culture and religion play a huge role as to how people interpret a lot of things. So, find out if there are cultural or religious peculiarities that you need to put into consideration.
You should also consider using the type of event (casual or formal) and the demography of the audience such as age and gender to influence your dressing.
Colour: Pay attention to your colour choices. Darker colours usually convey a stronger impression than lighter ones. When giving a presentation, it is vital to ensure that the colour you’re wearing doesn’t blend in with the background behind you. As much as possible, avoid neon colours and overly flashy clothes because clothes that are too flashy can be distracting and are the visual equivalent of shouting.
Comfort: Ensuring your clothes fit, may sound obvious, but many get it wrong. If your clothes are too tight or too loose, they may look awkward. A proper fit applies to everything you are wearing, whether formal or casual. There is nothing wrong in wanting to look and feel your best but avoid anything objectively inappropriate. Not only is wearing inappropriate clothing distracting, but it could give off an inaccurate impression. Many trainers end up discrediting themselves by looking too provocative.
Would you rather be remembered for what you wore or what you said?
Ladies, rather than too-tall heels, go for lower, more comfortable ones because as a trainer, you will be on your feet a lot, sometimes for several hours straight. Even if it feels comfortable at first, your feet may start to hurt after several hours and feel sore at the end of the day.
Accessories: Don’t over-accessorise. Accessories should help compliment your outfit, not overpower it. Also, stay away from stark contrasts, as they tend to confuse the look.
Hygiene: Anything that anyone else can smell strongly is not good. Apply a mild perfume but don’t wear strong perfume or cologne. To get an idea of whether someone can smell you or not, feel free to ask someone you trust.
Make sure your clothes are clean and ironed properly. Remember, an individual, to a large extent, is judged by his clothes.
In a nutshell, think of how you would like to be perceived and dress accordingly. When in doubt, I recommend that you go for business casual and avoid grey areas.