Beware of the Presentation Wardrobe Malfunction!

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My client’s email made me laugh out loud (LOL) as I was stuck on the tube, at Bank Station in London the other day on my way to Deloitte. Thank you Ms X for sharing your major presentation wardrobe malfunction with us. You will remain anon!

I got some strange looks when I burst out laughing. OK, I may have snorted!

This is what it said ….

"I thought I’d share my new presentation tip: If you decide to wear power heels, watch out for holes in the floor. I was unable to move for a full five minutes due to a stiletto incident. Fortunately, I'm not one of those lapel mic, confidently working the space types. I was tucked behind the lectern. I did, however, have to reach down and pull my shoe out of the floor with both hands at the end of my presentation, so it can't have escaped notice. (Ps: no shoes were harmed). I love your newsletter thank you"

Thank you again Ms X, and I'm glad to hear your heels weren't harmed! 

Well that's a first – I love it. Heels can be precarious at the best of times. I find wedges are a good compromise if you want to avoid spiking floors, too much "clip clop" noise or looking too wobbly (remember the power of the pose?) You need to feel sturdy on stage. That goes for you too gents! And what about other garments? Careful of those unsightly sweat patches (remember Tony Blair’s shirt crisis at the Labour Party conference?)

One of my lovely blue jackets let me down badly once - I had to chuck it out because it showed dark circles around the arm pits – ewe, yes embarrassing when you're speaking in front of 120 lawyers at a posh hotel! 

To make sure you NEVER suffer from heel in the floor or sweat patch hell, I asked my fabulous expert stylist guru Natasha Musson who dresses hundreds of execs every year.  She could dress you too if you like!

Here’s Natasha’s top 5 – how-to-avoid-wardrobe-malfunction tips

1.    Tailoring and fit - is crucial.

Avoid any garment that is too tight revealing underwear underneath which could distract your audience.  If your skirt, dress,  trousers or collar feels tight it will affect the way you stand. You don’t want to adjust your clothes on stage, which will make you look nervous. (And no hands in pockets please!)

Choose an outfit that fits you perfectly, that you have worn before and feel fantastic in.  (You know you look well put together)

Remember the 2 C’s Comfortable = Confidence

2.    Beware of….

 - A raised stage (avoid short skirts, arrhh, too much thigh IS distracting)

- Mismatched socks.

- Make sure your shoes are not too high, practice walking in them

- Take all the price stickers off the soles! (my pet hate)

3.    Choose your fabric carefully.

- Go for natural breathable fabrics like cotton and avoid silks and polyester that you are likely to sweat in.

- Keep the style simple.

- When trying on your outfit, practice standing up and sitting down in a mirror to double check the fabric doesn’t easily crease. 

4. Inject a splash of colour into your outfit.

-       Avoid boring white shirts/blouses and wear something that shows your character.

For me (Natasha), that would be red lipstick and some great earrings, for Esther that would be a fabulous necklace and a quirky pair of shoes. This will reveal the 'real you' in a subtle way and you’ll be yourself and be more likely to smile.

Thank you Natasha, great advice.  I have one thing to add!

My big bonus tip

5. Do a dress rehearsal in the same venue!

Do a Recce - check out the venue if you can. How hot is it? Will you sweat if you wear a thick shirt under a thick jacket?  Is the floor noisy - are there steps up to a stage?

I remember speaking at the Edinburgh TV festival about youth TV (before my BBC days) and my skirt was too tight to step up onto the stage - I had to lift it up so my legs could move! Fail. 

Please keep your emails coming in about bad presentations you've witnessed plus success stories like the brilliant pitches you’ve won (my client had a win the other day - yeeeeees!)

I LOVE hearing about your observations about the way people communicate around you; who has charisma and who is losing their audience? Keep your stories coming.

And if you desperately need my help winning over your audiences so you NEVER sweat, please get in touch – or reply to this email. 

patrick Volavka