Your message, your content and your voice are all more important than your appearance when speaking. But nothing can undermine you faster that what you wear, including the colors, and poor choices can thwart your best efforts. It may sound silly to consider color when planning what you’ll wear when speaking, but it can really be an important issue on stage, in photos and in videos.
1) Start with your hair and skin color – If your hair and skin are pale (that means bald, white, gray, blonde and sometimes lighter red hair), then I suggest you consider a darker jacket to help bring your face into focus. Also, don’t wear pale shirts, suits or scarves. Still not sure, try a French blue or a teal shirt, scarf, tie or jacket, because these two colors compliment any skin color or hair color, and they will draw attention to your face. You may notice that you will frequently see blue as the backdrop color at news conferences and events.
2) Think about color values and brightness – Pure white will draw the eye – or the camera. That is awesome if you want them to be focused on your white shirt or jacket and not on you. Think mid-tones.
3) Colors on television or videos – It is interesting to see how colors react when being filmed. A red jacket, which can be a symbol of power, courage and vibrancy, can bleed at the edges. And patterns like stripes, plaids and houndstooth checks can appear to move, which can be a real audience distraction.
4) What looks good on you in person and close up may not look as great 30 rows away. A great exercise is to ask a friend and get a video or photos in a setting similar to the one you’ll be speaking at. That will help you decide.
5) It might be a good idea to put on your Client Questionnaire to ask what color the stage background will be. If the background is blue and you have a dress or suit that is the same color, you will disappear. It’s good to choose a contrasting color, so you stand out in front of the background.
6) Look at the color wheel – Artists contrast colors and you can do the same to choose your clothing to stand out from the background. Opposites on the color wheel make the other color stand out energetically (as red/green or blue/orange). It’s a bold choice, but it will certainly highlight you.
7) Makeup – Wear your makeup a bit more vibrant than you do in your daily life. The lights can wash you out. But be careful when using darker shades of lipstick. One speaker wore a dark red and, in the video, it made her lips look black.
Colors can play an important role in making you stand out on stage. Join us at Engaging Speakers and learn from some amazing speakers who are ready, willing and able to guide you to speaking success.
Gail Brown, Founder of Engaging Speakers, firstname.lastname@example.org