Thursday, March 12, 2015

Practical to political: The all-in-one on women speakers & wardrobes

Your content actually matters the most, but for women speakers, appearance can be the most effective silencer--not because of your choices, but because it can be used against you by the media, audience members, or those who want to discredit you.

That may sound esoteric, but it has a real impact on your success: If all we talk about is what you're wearing, we're not hearing you. At the same time, there are practical issues prompted by wardrobes for women speakers, who begin with far more choice in what to wear. This roundup looks at 8 practical and political issues for women speakers when it comes to wardrobe, so you know what to expect and what to reach for in the closet. With elections coming up in America, it's especially timely for women politicians, but these posts work for all of us:
  1. Practical checklists: A checklist for the speaker's wardrobe expands on wardrobe thoughts in A checklist for the whole speaker. Both are among the best-read posts on the blog.
  2. Political impact: Delivered in 2013 in London, my keynote for the UK Speechwriters Guild conference included wardrobes of women speakers--and attention paid to them--as one of the ways The Lady Vanishes when women speak. And my London notebook for that speech includes an article on Margaret Thatcher's strategy as a feminine style icon.
  3. Red flag: Reconsider red in your speaker wardrobe, even if it's your favorite power color. The reasons range from how you are perceived to what it does on camera.
  4. The media mirror: Running for public office? Mentions of your wardrobe in the media can negatively affect your results. Learn how this plays out in real time for two prominent women in UK Home Secretary Theresa May and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Do we see their words or their wardrobes? The good news: If you expect this attention, it won't throw you off base...and if you persist, eventually they'll pay more attention to your policies.
  5. Wardrobe as TED prop: Wardrobe lessons from a woman who only packed underwear for the TED conference is a talk based entirely on wardrobe (or the lack of one), but it's used to make a point about sustainability. An entertaining example of using your clothing as a prop, and a wardrobe as the structure for a talk.
  6. Handbaggery: Your handbag also may become an object of discussion--or a great place to keep speeches and notes. Read Handbagging and the woman speaker for historical context and how it affects public women today.
  7. What to wear on a speaker submittal: Submitting a video to pitch yourself as a speaker? A conference organizer shares tips--including what not to wear on that video--to help you get ahead.
  8. The wardrobe silencer: Seen or silenced? More on women speakers and their wardrobes offers you more context about what's really under discussion when attention's paid to a woman speaker's wardrobe.