What To Wear On Stage When Speaking

“What to wear on stage when speaking?” It’s a question that can cause anxiety for even the most seasoned public speakers. The clothing you choose to wear can have a significant impact on your confidence, comfort, and ultimately, your ability to connect with your audience.

In this blog post, we’ll provide some practical advice on how to select the perfect outfit for your next speaking engagement, so you can feel confident and deliver your best performance.

What you wear on stage when speaking plays an essential role in your performance. It’s quite a straightforward concept – first impression matters.

Dress or Pants? 

Shirt or T-shirt?

Usually, we’re preached that clothes and appearance don’t matter. Contrary to that, they speak loads about you and contribute to your audience’s perception of you if you’re a public speaker or any performer for that matter. People will take a glance at you and form an opinion, and it doesn’t take a lot for an opinion to become an identity when you’re a public figure. Additionally, your clothes define your brand. So, what you wear on stage when speaking should be in sync with your brand, make you feel confident & comfortable. 

The old saying ‘dress for success’ is something to swear by when you’re starting as a public speaker. It means that you should dress as if you’re already successful. It will help you look confident and composed in front of your audience while the content of your speech influences them. 

After all, why will anyone take what you’re speaking about seriously if you look like a mess? Or, if you are wearing something opposite of what your brand represents.

What to wear on stage while speaking

So, if you wish to ace your look for your public speaking engagement, read further and learn how you can use clothes to your advantage.

6 Things to Think About Dressing Up For a Public Speaking Event

What to wear on stage while speaking

You Should Know These 6 Things Before Dressing Up For Public Speaking Event.

1. Dress Comfortably

No doubt, the day of the speech will be an important day for you. There will be plenty of things that can make you nervous and even stressed, but your clothes shouldn’t be one of them. Here’s the thing, even though a lot of things can go wrong at any event but if you feel good in your attire, you have better chances of overcoming any issue.

So whether you wear a suit or a dress, pick what makes you feel great about yourself and is comfortable. This also applies to the shoes, accessories, and makeup you wear.

2. Dress How You’d Like To Be Remembered

As a public speaker, you’re going to leave your audience with a mental image of yourself. It’s going to stick in their brains for a long time as a memory. So, dress the way you’d like people to perceive you. If you want them to remember you like a minimalist, that’s how you should dress. If you want to come off as a business professional, wear a well-cut suit and tie. The idea is to align the message you want to convey with your dress. 

3. Dress Culturally Appropriate

What to wear during your speaking event

You Should Always Dress Up As Per The Event Theme & Type Of Audience.

The essence of your dress is to appeal to your audience passively while your words do the magic. In order to do so, you must know your audience and understand what they like & dislike. The cultural orientation of your audience plays a significant role in that. Several places have distinct dress codes, and standing too out of the crowd can create a wall of difference between you and your audience. That’s the last thing you want. 

So, if you have any doubt about the clothes you’ve picked, whether the skirt is too short or too tight or that your shirt is too outlandish, it’s better to change to something you know is appropriate for the occasion and audience. 

4. Mind Your Hair

When you’re on the stage, all of your audience’s focus should be on you, and there shouldn’t be anything in between that could become a distraction, including your hair. As a public speaker, you must make sure that your hair stays in place and doesn’t cover your face if you truly want to make an impact on your audience. This applies to women and men alike. 

Thus, if you have long hair, pull it back from your face and make sure it stays behind you. Constantly playing with or fixing your hair, your tie can undermine your authority as a speaker, avoid that. Basically, whatever you wear, your audience should see your face and connect with your facial expressions.

5. Try On Your Outfit In Advance 

Do a dress rehearsal if you’ve bought something new for the occasion so that your body can get used to wearing that outfit. This way, you can also try on a bunch of outfits and see what you feel most comfortable in. If your presentation is going to involve some sort of physical movement like sitting, picking something up, pacing a lot, practice all of that in what you’re going to wear to assure it’s the right fit.

6. What do the colors say? 

What to wear on stage on public speaking event

Make Sure You Choose The Color Which Compliments Your Personality.

Colors have a personality of their own. The color you wear on stage when speaking should complement your personality and elicit certain responses in people. So, choose your colors wisely with the following information and ensure your color personality matches your intentions. 

– Black is a power color you can’t go wrong with. It comes off as stable, confident, and strong. If you want to instill in your audience a sense of authority and trust, black is your color. But don’t overdo it as it can quickly make you look unapproachable. So, accessorize it with some colorful add-ons and subdue some of the power with personality.

– White is the color of calm and purity. So, if you want to look clean, sharp, and together, wear something white. 

– The darker shades of blue pose less risk as they barely have any downsides. Blue tones make you look calm, cool, and approachable. It’s a soothing color that brings out a peaceful response from most people. 

– If you are going for a neutral look, gray can be a good choice. But beware, not everyone can pull off gray and may seem unfriendly. If worn right, it can look classy and stylish with a tad of refinement. But if it gets wrong, it can appear too stuffy, boring, forgettable, or cold. To be on the safe side, add a splash of brighter color to a gray outfit to balance your look.

– Red is a powerful color for many, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. If you’re a motivational speaker for business aspirants, red can be a good choice. But if your presentation requires you to be empathetic, red may come across as intense, aggressive, and intimidating. 

Examples of Attires You Can Wear When Speaking Publicly

Following is a go-to list for public speakers to consider when thinking about what to wear on stage when speaking publicly. 

– Dark-colored like blue, gray, and black slacks are good choices for almost every occasion.

– Button-down dress shirts or blouses in a friendly color can barely ever go wrong.

– Wear shoes that are comfortable, classic, and look nice. If you want your shoes to blend in, choose a dark-colored pair. 

– Accessories with some basic pieces that don’t shine too much and make your outfit whole instead of distracting audiences.

Master the Art of Public Speaking

Myths About Public Speaking Clothing 

Myths about dressing up for public speaking

Check Out These Myths About Dressing Up For Public Speaking Event

You must have heard a lot of times before that you should wear something that draws attention to you and makes you stand out from the crowd when going on stage. But is that true? 

The worst thing you can do is wear something that makes you stand out, and here’s why. 

Standing out or looking unique is not always great. Sometimes you may be attracting attention for all the wrong reasons. As a public speaker, you must be mindful of the bad publicity your outfits may create. For example, if you’re an environmentalist and wear a leather haute couture to your presentation, it can be scandalous and tarnish your reputation. 

So, dress to make good first impressions not to emphasize your clothing over your personality. 

Another myth is that graphic t-shirts or the ones with typography must be avoided as they look unprofessional. However, if the t-shirt or any other piece of clothing is in sync with your personal brand and presentation, there’s nothing wrong with it. 

There are no hard and fast rules to dressing up for public speaking. All you need to make sure is that you capture the attention of your audience and make an impact with the words you speak, not the words on your shirt.

Learn All About Public Speaking 

The next time you’re stumped with the question of what to wear on stage when speaking, consider these things before picking an attire, and you’ll be able to command the stage in a way that gets your message across through your words and clothes.

It’s essential to have Public speaking skills, specially if you are a business leader or planning to start something. Check out How Public Speaking Can Grow You As A Business Leader and level up your business growth.

If you need some help with breaking into the public speaking industry and want to learn all about it, we surely have something amazing for you which will definitely help you to become a successful public speaker.

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This online public speaking course offered by Emerge Global will teach you everything you need to know about storytelling and public speaking. You’ll learn how to craft an experience that engages your audience and make a lasting impact on them. 

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This article helps you to get out of confusion that what you should wear on stage during your public speaking event. Consider these important points so that you always remember this special day. Here is a quick recap of things that you should consider before dressing up for your public speaking event.

  1. Dress Comfortably
  2. Dress How You’d Like To Be Remembered
  3. Dress Culturally Appropriate
  4. Mind Your Hair
  5. Try Out On Your Outfits In Advance
  6. What Do The Colors Say

We hope that this will definitely help you in understanding about “What To Wear On Stage When Speaking“.

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About Author

Jeremiah O`Brian
Master Teacher  | USC School of Dramatic Arts

Jeremiah O’Brian is a faculty member at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. His exceptionally diverse background – from gritty nuts-and-bolts firefighting to film and theatre credits and accolades – is bolstered by his several graduate degrees.

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