A reason to care about your personal brand and style is because your audience forms opinions. But because they do, you must live with the consequences of how you show up. And how you show up are matters of visualization and perception. Your audience forms opinions based on an outer-inner connection with you.
If you don’t care about your audience, their opinions, or the after-effects, this post is not for you. No disrespect intended, but not caring about your audience signals anti-social behavior.
It is normal to care about others’ opinions of you, whether their beliefs have consequences or not. Trust me, consequences exist, even if you don’t see them. Have you lost out on a promotion? Didn’t get the job? Ghosted by a love interest or supposed friends? Sense that people have lost some interest in you? Those issues could have to do with whatever is going on with your audience. But, you may also play a role in those outcomes.
There are many things that you can do to turn around these situations. They include turning your attention to your personal style, personal branding, and executive presence. Because your audience forms opinions, upgrading your image leads to improving your outcomes.
Harvard Business Review published a survey conducted in 2020 and it confirms that, visually, your audience forms opinions of you. The survey considered background, clothing color and clothing type choices in virtual settings. The survey results shed an interesting light on all this. But, it used vague language and lacks guidance for individual situations. So, it keeps people in the dark as well.
The survey went further on the bases of the impression you might want your audience to form about you. Their options included making authentic, expert, innovative, or trustworthy impressions. Again, this survey sheds light on these specific impressions. But, what if you need to form an altogether different impression. Or, how about offering a combined impression, like being trustworthy and innovative at the same time? What innovator does not want their audience to trust their creativity? Because your audience forms opinions of you, they won’t consider your innovations worthy if they don’t also trust the innovator.
Virtual Meeting Background
Starting with the survey’s question about people’s virtual meeting background preference. The clear winner is that people want to see your actual room in the background. But what aspects the camera angle picks up in the space matters a lot. Blank rooms and walls are out. So, the décor you display reveals an impression about your personal brand. Men prefer seeing books, whereas women prefer seeing framed art, diplomas, or photos. Actual home furnishings matter far less. Full room shots can take people’s eyes off of you as they search for where you hide messes or piles. So, how you frame your virtual meeting shot matters because your audience forms opinions of you based on your space.
As for clothing color, 61% of respondents showed no preference one way or the other. The younger demographic that identified as male were most opinionated about clothing color. Another shortcoming of the survey is how it delineated color options. The choices offered were either bright, neutral, or pattern. Not everyone agrees on what a bright color is, believe it or not. Plus, neutral colors comprise a much broader range than people tend to think. Moreover, it’s impossible to consider pattern without accounting for shapes and colors.
The survey identifies a gender conundrum about what signifies innovation. 16% more women see bright color as innovative, while 27% more men choose the pattern option. My expert opinion is that failing to specify colors and patterns skews the survey. This is why I stated before that even though it sheds light, the survey still keeps us in the dark.
Finally, the survey addressed the subject of clothing style. It revealed business casual as the safe bet among the other choices of business formal or casual. The exception is that survey respondents believe business formal clothing is best for looking like an expert. Even so, if you are a chief technology officer who needs to look like an expert, should you put on a suit? The answer is that because your audience forms opinions of you, what to wear depends on your audience.
The survey identifies that business casual best conveys authenticity. But, for a senior vice president of a media powerhouse or a finance juggernaut, is business casual the right look? Again, the answer depends on your audience.
Another impression the survey gauged was which level of clothing best conveys trustworthiness. About one-fifth of people say that casual is the way to go, whereas one-third answered business formal. That leaves the other half in the business casual corner.
To my way of thinking, the trustworthy personality quality equates with time-honored tradition. Think about this. When in human history have we not valued the truth? In fact, even today, we observe and take part in societal debate over what actually is the truth. So, yes, business formal, business casual, or casual level clothing all convey trustworthiness. But, the question is, which is right for you, and when.
Converting Others’ Opinions into Fact
Because your audience forms opinions about you, it is crucial to offer the correct impression. To underline the importance of setting the right tone with your presence, it’s important to know how people form opinions. It starts with an idea that people believe to be true or valid without having absolute facts. Fact is opposite of opinion. So, what you emanate to others, combined with how they take that in yields their opinion of you.
When you present yourself with authenticity, you offer yourself like evidence. Then people make conclusive positions about you after they evaluate their experience of you. It’s a lot like taking a position after pouring over evidence.
As people know you less peripherally and more intimately, you either prove their opinions correct or incorrect. When you prove that who you are matches the opinion, that’s a fact. So, because your audience forms opinions, that impacts how your brand builds.
Can You Influence Others’ Opinions?
You definitely can influence others’ opinions. And if you care about your audience and your presence, you ought to give this appropriate focus. It is terrific to take an interest in growth and self-actualization. As you earn greater respect, you also gain more natural command of yourself around others. From there, you can do good things, influence others, and be a better person for yourself and for others.
Yes, your digital background matters. The colors of your clothing matter a lot more than you might realize at first. And, of course, the level of clothing you wear affects the opinions of your audience. It is important to consider all these elements as you consider your presence.
What steps will you take to improve your situation? In need of suggestions? Check these out.