There are 30 million PowerPoint presentations created every day. That’s a lot of presentations!

When you are giving a presentation, it can take a lot of time and energy to get it just right. Choosing a presentation outfit to highlight your confidence and professionalism is key.

Read on to learn how to dress for a presentation including some faux-pas to avoid.

Choose Comfort

Giving a presentation in front of a crowd is nerve-wracking enough. You don’t need to add itchy, tight or uncomfortable clothing to the mix.

Your presentation outfit should look professional but be breathable, light and comfortable. Avoid those heels that hurt your toes or could cause you to stumble, especially if you need to walk up steps on to a podium.

Ideally, you want to choose a professional dress or suit that makes you feel confident. Generally fitted pieces give a more streamlines business professional look.

Avoid baggy, ill-fitting tops or pants. You will look disheveled and sloppy – the last thing you want to come across as!

Stay away from any items that restrict your movement, or make you feel self-conscious.

You’ll likely walk around and use your hands while giving your presentation. So, make sure your outfit moves with you. Go ahead and try your chosen outfit on at home and pretend to do your presentation to see how it moves.

Dress for the Audience and Venue

Remember, people are taking time out of their day to hear your presentation. Show them you value their time by dressing the part.

Think about the audience you’ll be speaking for in order to get the right style.

For a formal presentation, a fitted black or navy suit and comfortable heels are sure to look good.

If the presentation is at a less conventional group such as a start-up or a tech conference, you don’t want to wear a suit and look old-fashioned. Here a colored pencil skirt or a skinny-legged pant with a silk blouse or a long-sleeved dress would work well.

The best thing you can do is check with the event organizer ahead of time to get a feel for the dress code. And pack a blazer that you can throw on or take off if necessary at the last minute.

Also, make sure you find out if you will be speaking on a stage. Be wary of wearing a skirt if you’ll be on stage. There’s nothing professional about showing your front-row audience members your underwear.

An outfit hanging on a wall.

Avoid Brand New Clothes

You should always wash and wear your presentation outfit well before the event. Standing in front of hundreds of people is no time to find out that the tag on the back of a top is itchy or that the blouse is sheer in bright lights.

Choose fabrics that wear well, such as jersey, lyocell, spandex and knits. You want to know that your outfit won’t be a wrinkled mess after sitting for half an hour.

So, while you don’t want to bring your faded and tired outfits when giving a presentation, you do want to make sure you’ve tested out your choice before the big day.

Keep It Simple

While flashy jewelry can certainly be fun and attract attention, it can be distracting during a presentation. You don’t want your jewellery to be reflecting light back in to the audience, nor have the microphone pick up sound every time your bracelet or necklace moves.

Choose simple jewellery that won’t make noise or glare under stage lights.

Wear Something That Holds a Lavalier Microphone

If you are giving a presentation to a big group, or are part of a panel, chances are you’ll have to wear a lavalier microphone (clip-on microphone).

Keep that in mind when you plan your presentation outfit. Many lavalier microphones use a transmitter that either clips on a belt or can sit in a pocket. Many dresses do not have a place to keep the transmitter.

Generally, a shirt and pants are a better fit and ideally, you would place the lavalier on a button-down shirt directly above the second button.

Also, pinning the clip-on mic to a lapel isn’t the best placement. When you move your head, the volume will change.

If in doubt, ask the event organizer what type of clip will be used for your presentation.

Remove the Name Tag

When you arrived at the conference, you likely got a sticker pinned to your chest. Or maybe you got a laminated badge on a lanyard or on a safety clip.

Before giving a presentation, take off any and all tags. They can be distracting (especially if the tag is on crooked) and can cause a glare due to stage lights.

Feel free to pop it back on when you’re done your talk. If you think you might forget to take off the tag, add it as a point on your presentation notes or on your pre-presentation checklist.

An outfit hanging on a wall.

Will You Be on Camera?

You might be filmed live for those participating via video conference. Or footage may be used for a wide variety of purposes including YouTube and other social media sharing.

Dressing professional on-camera is slightly different than if you aren’t being filmed. You should avoid patterns that could appear distorted on camera (like checkered print).

You’ll also want to avoid black, white and red which can make you fade into the background or look jarring on film. Pastels or jewel tones are a safe choice for an on-camera appearance.

Avoid any frosted or glittery makeup if you’ll be filmed. Matte colors and finishes work best. And make sure your hair is styled to be out of your eyes.

Always look in the mirror before going on stage. You don’t want to find out that you had a strand of hair sticking straight up.

Bottom Line on What to Wear When Giving a Presentation 

Thanks for reading! We hope this guide on choosing a professional outfit when giving a presentation helps you feel confident and prepared as you head onto the stage.

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