In his book, â€śHow to Develop Self Confidence & Influence People by Public Speaking,â€ť Dale Carnegie talks about an inquiry that was sent to a large group of people by a psychologist and university president, asking them the impression clothes made on them. All but unanimously, they testified that when they were well groomed and faultlessly and immaculately attired, the knowledge of it, the feeling of it, had an effect that, while it was difficult to explain, was still very definite, and very real. It gave them more confidence; brought them increased faith in themselves; heightened their self-respect. They declared that when they had the look of success they found it easier to think success, and to achieve success. Such is the effect of clothes on the wearer himself.
Carnegie went on to question the effect clothes had on an audience. He said that time and again he noticed that if the speaker is a man with baggy trousers, shapeless coat and footwear, fountain pen and pencils peeping out of his breast pocket, a newspaper or personal items sticking out the sides of his garments, or if the speaker is a woman with a bulging purse or her slip showingâ€”that an audience has as little respect for that person as the speaker has for his or her own appearance. Plus, the audience is likely to assume that the mind of the speaker is as sloppy as his or her unkempt hair, unpolished shoes, or ragged clothing.
Although things have relaxed a bit since the days when Dale Carnegie noted these observations, the basic premise remains the same: Even is a speaker is dressed in a â€śbusiness casualâ€ť manner, he or she must still be mindful of overall appearance and grooming. It is the first thing an audience will notice as the speaker walks onto the stage or in front of the room, and will immediately form a first impression. If youâ€™re that speaker, make sure you do everything in your power to ensure that impression is a good one.
Bonus: For more information on effectively presenting yourself to groups of people join us for an upcoming â€śDale Carnegie Course: Effective Communications & Human Relations/Skills For Success.â€ť
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Photo credit: Andy Newson