Let me start off by saying that I want these three men to be successful. One is Mark Zuckerberg. Another is a startup founder. The third is a self-described presentation coach. Each of them has a viable business to run. But, do not follow these three examples, because each of these men is stuck. They don’t have good information or help, ensuring that they dress well for the audience they each addressed last week. I ought to know because I was an active audience member for each of their presentations.
The obvious famous example is Mark Zuckerberg. I can’t really tell you how much I want him and Facebook to continue to be successful. So much of my personal growth and healing from the past has happened thanks to the platform that he founded. I am rooting for Mark! But, when he sat down for a taped interview to talk about the situation embroiling his company, he looked off.
Mark missed the mark because, in talking about matters of trust, he opted to wear a gray-blue crew neck knit. It’s a poor optic because he had an important message to convey to the audience. 2.2 billion people use Facebook worldwide. Telling users that Facebook has much work to do, he non-verbally conveyed that he treats this situation casually. His look did not match the level of his serious verbal language. When the non-verbal doesn’t match the verbal, this leaves onlookers to question whether they believe Zuckerberg. As a result, he has to work harder to prove that he is a man of his word.
The startup founder has an app for an interesting idea, on-demand tailoring. He prepared a good pitch deck of PowerPoint slides. He knew his information and conveyed information with humor. But, there was nothing funny about how he dressed for his pitch. He shared that he learned how to sew and about tailoring, which brought him to his business idea. So, why did he show up looking the way he did?
He wore blue jeans rolled up so high that they looked like a piece of hyper affected fashion. In addition, he also wore a super wrinkled company logo T-shirt. Maybe his saving grace is that over the T-shirt, he wore a sport coat. However, the sport coat appeared pitched, riding up his hunched shoulders, exposing too much of his tush. It didn’t hang properly on his body. In other words, it was ill-fitting, both on his body and for his pitch. I would say his look was pitch imperfect. The thing is, I want to see this guy succeed with his business. But, his look is as much as his calling card as his idea. If he doesn’t look the part, he’ll have to work extra hard to prove his worth.
The presentation coach provided his audience with lists of elemental information about verbal and non-verbal communication. He offered additional insights about how to make more concrete presentations, and even phone skills. It wasn’t until the end of his presentation when he talked about somethings he referred to as “passive factors.” Among the few things that he says is passive is one’s “style of dress.”
Do not follow these three examples of how these men showed up because no one’s style should be passive. Mark Zuckerberg’s gray crew neck T-shirt: truly passive. The start-up founder’s entire get-up: passively haphazard and lacking attention to every detail. The presentation coach misinformation: how is active communication in any way ever passive?
What would I have recommended that Zuckerberg and the startup founder could have worn to have been more on-point?
The Facebook founder would have done well in a white collared shirt. With a bit of formality in the collar and color, onlookers would have observed that Zuckerberg put himself on notice. Having to explain a massive security breach isn’t an everyday occurrence. Instead of the crewneck knit [with pushed up sleeves], the recommended shirt conveys acknowledgment of the gravity of the situation.
The on-demand tailoring app founder should have had an on-point, tailored outfit. Full stop.
And, the presentation coach not only needs to update his information, but his look could be more memorable, too. In fact, if he knew how important showing up is, he would put more effort into his own look. As a result, he would more easily sell himself as a more visible presentation coach.
So, if you do not follow these three examples, at least you can intuit what not to do. As successful as these three men are, their lack of attention to their appearance forces that inattentiveness upon their audiences. The inattentiveness creates distractions from their core messages. They have to work harder to make their points crystal clear. And, it can even lead to presenting misinformation or incomplete information. Don’t let that be what happens to you. Do not follow these three examples. Follow my suggestions and do the exact opposite of their examples.