When I run a presentation skills training event I am amazed at how much time is taken over the “Tie, or No Tie ” debate (considerably more time than the “Trousers, or No Trousers” debate, I can tell you.) The opinion as to whether you should, or shouldn’t (wear a tie – not trousers) is divided – probably 50:50. Even www.tieguide.com doesn’t join that particular debate.
A point I always make is that presenting is about “Distraction Management.” If your audience expects you to wear a tie – then do so! (This point clearly isn’t just confined to ties. You can substitute the word tie here with suit, jacket, skirt, trousers, etc.)
If your audience expects you to look smart then, if you don’t, they will be distracted – probably to the point of not listening at all. They will become fixated on the fact that you don’t look smart. I remember one presenter (a very senior manager of a bank’s franchising outfit) not for what he spoke about but because, I noticed, he had on scruffy shoes that had huge holes in the sole. I was livid. Surely on his salary he can afford a decent pair of shoes? “Sorry, what was it you weretalking about?” I really don't recall.
Of course you could argue that, “This is who I am and this is how I choose to dress,” that’s absolutely fine (I defend anybody’s right to wear what they want) but be prepared for an uphill battle to win over the audience. If you’re brilliant you can wear what you bloomin’ well like – look what Eddie Izzard gets away with.
There’s something that says that if you adopt a quirky dress-code then you’ll be remembered. That’s absolutely true – but be careful that you’re not known only for your whacky dress-sense.
Before you go on to give a presentation look yourself over in the mirror to check for malfunctions in the wardrobe department. If your flies are undone, or your skirt is tucked into your knickers, then it’s doubtful that anyone will pay much attention to what you’re saying. (If your tie is tucked in your knickers, you’ll really set tongues wagging.)
So, Gents, please make sure your tie is tied to the CORRECT LENGTH, and ladies you can get involved here by making sure the tie-wearing men in your life take heed. Whilst our friends at www.tieguide.com show you how to tie a Four-in-Hand or a proper Windsor knot they make no reference to the length of the tie.
You see, the tie is a giant arrow that points at one of the three B’s. Your Belly (yes, I know it’s a status symbol in some countries, but we don’t want to see it), your Buckle or your (and whilst it points at exactly what you’re thinking – I'm in polite company here so I’ll say…) Boots.
“Distraction Management” purposes it’s much better that the arrow stops at the buckle on your belt – it draws a line under it.
Now you know this piece of presenting etiquette you’ll know it can take quite a few attempts to get it tied the right length – a major contributing factor as to why I personally fall into the “NO” camp – the 50% of people who reckon it’s best NOT to wear a tie!
If you would like to report a presenter's heinous wardrobe malfunction please do so here.