“Vikram, do colours make a big difference when you are presenting? Or is it just the content and the way it is presented that matters?” This is what one New Delhi based CEO asked me a week before he was asked to deliver a key note at a leadership summit that was going to be telecasted on various Indian business channels. It might sound frivolous to add colours to what you need to focus on when it comes to a presentation but truth be told, they do play an important role.
Take a videotaped version of a presentation, for instance. If you did not do your homework and didn’t factor in the possibility of the presentation being taped, you could face a huge problem. Say as a women leader you wore a shade of red, which is a colour that bleeds on the TV screen. You might look very presentable in real life but could appear like a red blob on the TV screen. This is because red bleeds at the edges when it is broadcast. This means that no one looks at the face of the presenter because they are distracted and disgusted by the overall look.
Colours might not affect a man as much as a woman but even men need to be aware of the fact that the choice of colours is important. Take a backdrop, for instance. If your clothes are the same colour as the background, you will not stand out. If it contrasts too sharply, it will distract your audience but if it is a perfect combination, a think of how many brownie points you score subconsciously in the audience’s minds. Making sure you know what colour the background will be is a great place to start before you choose what colour you are going to wear.
So without much ado, let’s take a look at what points you have to consider before you cho
ose the colour of your presentation outfit. Let’s go from head to foot.
The first thing to look at is your hair and then, the colour of your skin. Is your hair a light colour, grey or
maybe jet black? Is your skin very fair, dark, olive, yellow, brown or dark? When in doubt, a blue blouse or shirt will flatter any skin tone and will not clash with any colour of hair. That particular shade is called French blue and it really does make all skin tones look good. Look at many of the TV presenters and anchors – you’ll find blue is a popular colour. For men, the suits they wear should be dark. White shirts could be detrimental as it draws too much focus on it and this could be distracting. Mid-tones are a good way to go and could be a safe option.
For TV or video, white could appear too bright and there are certain patterns too that could be distracting – huge geometric patterns or bold designs could draw away from the main topic. A hound’s-tooth pattern on a suit for example, could give the viewers the feeling of movement and they will look at that rather than at the presenter. The other thing with colours is that what looks good up close could look not so good from far off so ask a friend/colleague to help you check this out when you choose an outfit.
Now for footwear. Make sure it matches your clothes but do not let it shout out in terms of colour choice. Footwear can make or mar an outfit so choose carefully. Not just the colour of the shoes, ensure that they are in good condition too – they should be well maintained and not scuffed or scratched.
Last but not least, get yourself a colour wheel where you can mix and match colours. This helps determine what colour will look good with what and it also helps you decide what would look good against a backdrop colour.
Coach Vikram Kalloo
Executive Coach , Mumbai-London