Let’s move from the realm of what you do and say in front of your business presentation audience to how you appear to your audience . . . an important source of personal competitive advantage.
Your appearance can cultivate this advantage. So right now let’s dismiss the notion that “it doesn’t matter what I look like . . . it’s the message that counts.”
This is so wrong-headed and juvenile that you can turn this to immediate advantage. You can adopt the exact opposite perspective right now and steal a march on the competition. Most folks your age won’t go that route, particularly those stuck in liberal arts.
It’s much more dramatic to deliver a mythic blow for “individuality” than to conform to society’s diktats, eh?
Take the Smart Fork
Well, let those folks strike their blows while you spiff yourself up for your presentations. Present a superior appearance in both public and private job interviews to gain a personal competitive advantage.
Here is the upshot. Presentation appearance matters a great deal. It’s up to us to dress and groom appropriate to the occasion and appropriate to our personal brand and to the message we want to send.
“Slob cool” may fly in college – and I stress may. But it garners only contempt outside the friendly confines of the local student activities center and fraternity house.
Is that “fair?”
It’s fair for Personal Competitive Advantage
It certainly is fair! You may simply not like it. It may clang upon your youthful sensibilities.
But here’s the deal . . . You’re on display in front of a group of buyers. They want to know if your message is credible. Your appearance conveys cues to your audience. It can convey one of two chief messages, with little wiggle room between them.
Or . . .
Your appearance telegraphs to your audience that you are: Slow, sloppy, careless, inefficient, incompetent, weak, mercenary, stupid.
Moreover, you may never know when you are actually auditioning for your next job. So it pays to burnish your personal brand all the time to achieve the much-coveted personal competitive advantage.
That presentation you decided to “wing” with half-baked preparation and delivered in a wrinkled suit was awful. It might have held in the audience a human resource professional recommended to you by a friend. But you blew the deal. Without even knowing it.
Don’t Eliminate Yourself from Contention
How many powerful people mentally cross you off their list because of your haphazard appearance? How many opportunities pass you by? How many great connections do you forfeit?
Your appearance on the stage contributes or detracts from your message. So, as a general rule, you should dress one half-step above the audience to convey a seriousness of purpose.
For instance, if the audience is dressed in business casual (sports coat and tie), you dress in a suit. Simple.
Personal appearance overlaps into the area of personal branding, which is beyond the scope of this space, but two books I recommend to aid you in your quest for appearance enhancement are You, Inc. and The Brand Called You.
Both of these books are worth the price. They contain the right kind of advice to propel you into delivering Powerful Presentations enhanced by a superb professional appearance.
For more on developing especially powerful personal competitive advantage by way of your business presentations, consult my own book The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.