To quote Coco Chanel, the answer to this question appears seemingly simple:
THE BEST COLOUR IS THE ONE THAT LOOKS GOOD ON YOU
But how can you know which colours suit you and will look great when speaking on stage? And what else should you consider when deciding on the colour of your public speaking outfit?
What Coco Chanel didn’t tell us is that not every colour looks good on everyone. In fact, we all have distinctive pigmentation that indicate which characteristics a colour needs to match to harmonise with our natural features.
Our eye colour, hair colour, eyebrow colour, skin tone and skin undertone collectively determine if we require:
- Cool or warm tones
- Bright or muted shades
- Light or dark colours
A qualified image consultant or personal stylist can work this out through a colour analysis. Once you know the colour characteristics which harmonise with your natural features, your outfit choices will immediately compliment your complexion, make you look younger, healthier, and more radiant.
Once you’re familiar with your colour profile there are still so many colours to choose from. The truth is that every colour carries a meaning, both positive and negative. For example, what do you think of when you hear the word red? Make a list of all the words that you associate with “red”. Some of them might be danger, passion, etc. Now do the same for the colour blue. Which words come up now? Maybe corporate, trustworthy, calm etc.
The words we associate with each colour have been moulded by society and vary slightly from one culture to the next. Keep this in mind if you are an international speaker and address audiences from various backgrounds.
Keeping the psychological effect of colours in mind, think about your audience and how you want them to perceive you. What words do I want them to use when they describe you later? Now match those words to a colour that will communicate this subconsciously to your audience.
VENUE & STAGE
If you can get information from the event organiser before hand, remember to ask them what colour the stage set up will be. Sometimes there is a curtain or a backdrop that could blend with your colour of choice, making you disappear into the background.
That’s exactly what Charlene C Lam did and she is so glad that she scoped out the set-up before her talk (see image). Charlene says: “My original dress was all blue! I would have been a talking head.” What a great example for taking “conscious control” of your image whether in person or on social media!
COLUMN OF COLOUR
You’ve considered which colour suits you, which colour sends the right message to your audience and which colour won’t swallow you up on stage. Now, wear it head to toe! I’m serious, the easiest and most effective way to create height and gravitas when speaking from stage is the column of colour.
Simply wear the same colour on bottom and top, either in a dress, a suit, or a trousers and top combination. The visual vertical line will lead the eyes of your audience to your face and keep their attention on you. Rather than get distracted by several interruptions through hem lines that visually shrink you, the column of colour leads your audience to your face, allowing them to pay full attention to what you have to say. Notice how Rachel Miller creates visual impact in a 300 seater auditorium in the image below:
YOUR BRAND COLOURS
Wearing your brand colours can add to the authenticity, consistency, and purpose of your speaking outfit, especially if they meet your personal criteria as outlined above.
Someone who always wears red on stage is Janet Murray, content marketing expert and international speaker (see image).
Your audience does notice when your outfit matches your slides and how as a speaker, you look “on brand”.
Choosing your best colour and outfit carefully when you speak on stage can not only help your confidence, but help build your business!