Becoming a Better Presenter and Storyteller – Don’t Do THIS!

When most people think about becoming a better presenter, they immediately jump to writing content, taking professional speaking lessons, signing up for Toastmasters and honing their verbal presentation. They do a terrific job on their visuals, PowerPoints, talking points and summaries. They work on varying their vocal tone, moving their body in specific ways and deliver their stories and presentations over and over in front of the mirror and in front of others. Once they’ve got those things mastered, they head out on the road, or into the boardroom and are completely unprepared on the most important front. 


This is the biggest mistake I see even savvy presenters make, on a daily basis. A storyteller tells the story with what he or she is wearing, not just with words, and audiences decide whether or not a presenter is credible before he or she even speaks. If your image lines up with your material and you look like what you say you are, your chances of being perceived favourably increase significantly. Although there are multiple layers to creating a strong visual presence, here are three tips that you can use right away to boost your presenting ability: 

1. Know yourself – your colouring, body type and personality style all play a part in determining what kinds of clothing will make you show up well. The easiest way to start is to take a look at your natural colouring and body shape and match them to the colours and styles you choose. For example, if your colouring is bold and dark and your body is quite straight, you’ll likely do well in bold colour combinations and straight, crisply designed clothing. If your colouring is light and soft and your body is curvy, then you’ll do better in lighter colours and softer, draping fabrics. 

2. Know your message – your clothing needs to align with the story you’re telling. If you’re dressed in bright colourful patterns and clothing that moves, jingles and sparkles but are talking about funeral arrangements, you’ll have a much harder time getting your audience to take you seriously. Half or more of them will be wondering how someone who looks like you got to be a funeral director. 

3. Know your audience – your clothing also needs to align with the audience, as much as possible in context of the first two areas. Let’s say you’re a life coach and humourist, speaking on burnout and managing stress. Your clothing for this presentation in front of accountants needs to be different than your clothing for an audience of university students. 

Your clothing tells a story as much as your content; make sure you’re sending the message that makes sense. 

Tell us what you think – do you use clothing strategically for presentations?