June 25, 2008

Does your appearance enhance your performance?

"If you come out in jeans and a t-shirt, you better be good. If you come out in a big shiny suit, half your work's done." ~ Graham Norton

Graham Norton is a comedian known for his flashy style, and he has the luxury of wearing whatever he wants as a performer; however, he makes a good point here. If there's no flash, there better be lots of substance. That doesn't mean a flamboyant dresser has no substance; it just means that he is using more avenues to create a persona.

When Graham walks out onstage in his shiny suit, you already know something about him. You already have an expectation of what's going to happen. You are already being entertained! His "costume" is part of the fun of his show.

Lots of speakers wear suits. I don't. It's just not my style. And luckily, I live in Southern California where suits are rarely mandatory.

I dress appropriately for the groups I speak to while still expressing my own style and personality. It's important to be real, to be me, and to be authentic. After all, what kind of a role model am I to my audiences if I don't practice what I preach?

I like to be colorful, especially in my earrings. I like to be comfortable, hence the flat shoes. I also have a visible tattoo on my left wrist, which is actually overlooked much of the time because it's perceived to be a bracelet. I would never, in a million years, consider hiding it.

My earrings and tattoo are not over the top or distracting, and they are still me. I'm willing to take a risk and step outside of the typical "speaker" mold. When I walk onstage, the audience already knows something about me: they know I'm unique and will probably deliver something different than what they usually experience from speakers.

How do you express your uniqueness through style?

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4 comments. Please add yours! :

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the post.

You are right. As a speaker, it is important to say what you think.

There is a common phrase at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center: “Point of view is worth 80 IQ points.”

This is part of taking charge of the space.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

True, Terry. Now how about your personal style?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another great post!

Personally, I like a bit of humor with the clothes. Not necessarily what I'm wearing, but how it's worn. Walking up to the front, looking deliberately at the audience, then popping the suit collar makes for a great introduction.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Humor has many forms, eh Devin?

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