What to Wear for a Speaking Gig

This seems like a ridiculous topic for a blog about event planning, but I'm going to assume two things:

1. The reason you want to host live events is to, at the very least, facilitate an amazing group of people or at the most, speak passionately about your expert topic...in front of an amazing group of people.

2 | That you might like to have a photo or video of said event, and you probably don't want to realize after the fact that everyone could see up your skirt the whole time.

(Just sayin'. I did corporate events for a lotttaaaa years and there are some struggles when it comes to figuring out how to dress).

So I'm going to cover the most basic things that people who are new to live events sometimes forget.

How to dress for all of the logistics of being a speaker at an event.

Give yourself plenty of time to get ready/change.

Are you speaking/facilitating AND the planner/host? Make sure you get 20 minutes before your guests arrive to change from your comfy outfit into something a little more classy. I've definitely felt event stress before and have been running around, only to realize that there are 30 women waiting for me to let them into the venue (which has meant some less-than-flattering photos).

If you're doing your own makeup and hair, make sure you've done it beforehand. You'll likely be in some photos, so feel free to go a little heavier on the makeup than usual.

Skirts if you're standing. Pants if you're sitting.

Will you be on a panel? You'll likely be sitting and sometimes there's no table to cover your legs. Remember, if you're above your audience, they may be at eye-level with your crossed legs, which means a short skirt is not preferable. Also, they'll likely be looking at your feet so make sure the shoe game is on point.

If you're the sole speaker, you'll likely be standing at a podium or have a handheld microphone. You can wear skirts in that case if you want, but be conscious of anything too tight or too long: it may interfere with your natural movement and if you're adjusting it the whole time, people will be noticing (can't hide when you're on stage, can you?)

What's the mic situation?

Which basically is my way of asking "Will you be mic'd?" and "What sort of mic will you have?". If it's a lavalier (the little on that clips to your lapel), make sure you don't wear a turtleneck or a V-neck shirt, since the lapel mic will sit too low to capture your voice. Button-up blouses are good for these.

If you're holding a mic, be sure you don't have any intrusive bracelets that will be moving up and down your arms as your arms hold the mic.

If you're in a really informal setting, remember that your light cotton t-shirt won't hold up a mic. Think sweatshirt or a heavier.

Hot tip: Dangly jewelry can often clank against a lavalier mic, so leave it at home, or dial it down.

Will there be a video replay or video screens?

If so, watch out for the slight-gap of a buttoned up shirt. Remember, everything is magnified when you're on video, plus the bottom half of you is cropped, so if you're thinking about wearing a button-up, make sure it's tailored and fits, sans gap.

Okay, so now that I've told you what NOT to wear, what should you wear?

Something that fits well and that's comfortable and that has the ability to pin a lavalier. I always recommend a modest-necked shift dress because it covers ALL of your bases, whether you're on a panel, you're speaking at a podium, or you're being interviewed.

Bright, strong colors are good, as is black. Stay away from distracting patterns that may give video-watchers a headache. And if you can rock a pair of heels, go for it. You'll want ones that are easy to move in, since moving around stage gives you an air of ease and confidence.

Pump up your makeup since stage lights can wash you out. And make sure there isn't anything really distracting on your head if you're in a more professional setting.

(PS Want more speaking tips and inspiration? I've got a whollllle Pinterest Board for that!)

Lauren CaselliComment