What Not to Wear

Posted on by Drew in advent speaker tips.

Clothing is so personal, you should always wear what you’re comfortable with.

With all the preparation that goes into create a new presentation, usually the last thing you think about is what you might wear to deliver it. Clothing is so personal, and you should always wear what you’re comfortable with and gives the impression that you personally want to put across. However, within the scope of that there are some practical considerations you might want to take into account.

Be one step ahead

Every event is different, from casual meet-ups in pubs to formal dinners and red carpet events. In the absence of a tight dress code, it can be difficult to know how to pitch things.

One great rule of thumb is to be one level smarter than the general audience. If your crowd will be in t-shirts, wear a shirt with a collar. If the audience is in regular work clothes, step yours up to the level of tidiness you’d wear to a job interview. Think what you’d wear to attend the event, and then dress it up a notch.

Why do this? It makes you stand out just a little when you’re presenting. Rather than looking like someone from the audience has got lost and wandered onto stage, it subtly sets you apart and makes you look like you belong there. Just as army uniforms get more dressy and decorated as they go up the ranks, being just a touch smarter helps stamp a little bit of authority on what you’re saying.

Think about mic placement

We talked about finding out what sort of mic you’ll be using and choosing what to wear is another big factor in this.

The two main types of microphones used at events are lapel clip (also called lavalier or just lav) mics, and head-worn mics that hook over your ears with a very thin wire and sit alongside your jaw. (These are sometimes called Countryman mics, after the dominant brand.)

What both styles have in common is that they will both use a transmitter pack. A wire runs from the mic, usually under your clothes, to a pack that you wear somewhere around your belt or trouser pockets. It’s typically around the size of a pack of cards.

When it comes to clothing choices, you need to think about where you put that pack. If you don’t have a belt or pockets, a jacket with pockets can prove a good solution. If you’re wearing something dressier (like, um, a dress) then there are all sorts of mic pack belt options on the market thanks to this being a common issue on TV and in theatre. It could be worth investing a little in your own belt solution.

The other issue comes with lapel mics. They need to be clipped onto your clothing around your chest area. If you have a shirt or something with lapels, then the solution is easy. If not, you need to think about where it will clip, and where you’ll route the wire to keep things tidy.

If you wear jewellery, think about this too. Wearing a necklace with a lapel mic risks the necklace making a noise or even touching the mic when you move. This can be very distracting for the audience and ruin a recording. Some earring styles cause the same issue with head-worn mics. If you’re going to be sitting a mic around your ears, it’s best to keep earrings to smaller designs that won’t risk touching the mic or its wire.

Are you being videoed?

If the event is being videoed, it can help to think about how your clothes can help achieve the best look on camera. (So that when you add your video to your presentation page on Notist it’ll look great!)

Avoid fabrics with very tight patterns or stripes–even fine stripes in a suit–as these can cause a moiré effect on camera. Also if your clothes have any reflective materials (so fancy!) then think about how this might shine light back at the camera and cause distracting issues.

Finally, think about the tones in your clothes and how they compare in brightness to that of your skin. Cameras are much less sophisticated than the human eye and will expose to one level of brightness, and stage lighting is particularly challenging. If your skin is dark and your clothes are bright, then the camera has to expose the picture for either your skin or your clothes. That can be a challenge, so it can be a benefit to wear clothes of roughly similar luminosity to your personal skin tone.

So many things to think about! Most of all, wear something that you feel confident in and helps your feel like yourself.

Advent speaker tips: this is part of a series of tips for public speakers that we’re posting throughout advent. Check back daily during December for more.

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