Respect your audience by looking sharp, but also be reasonable about your choice of wardrobe.
It may be the most expensive suit or ensemble you own, but if you’re not comfortable in it your audience won’t be comfortable with you.
Choose clothing that puts you at ease, with lots of freedom of movement. When you’re in front of a room full of observant people, you don’t want to have to worry about a seam or collar that’s too snug.
Don’t allow your attire to speak more loudly than you. Avoid flashy jewelry, accessories or loud ties that might distract an audience’s attention and make what you wear more memorable than your remarks.
This is not to say you should be dull and colorless in your wardrobe selection. On the contrary, stylish, colorful clothing or accessories can be a bold stroke of personality that fits you and your presentation quite well. When in doubt, though, understate rather than overstate.
Before you step onto the stage, remove name badges, conference ribbons or other ornaments. They draw the audience’s attention away from your face and your words as you speak.
Take keys and coins out of your pockets. The jingling noise inevitably will distract from even the most passionate remarks. Empty pockets also will dull your own temptation to bury your hands in them as you speak.
If you carry a pager or cell phone, turn it off.
Finally, don’t dress down to an audience. Dress up. No one need ever apologize for exhibiting a quiet sense of style and elegance, and making the audience feel special because you show respect for them.
(Bonus tip: Be mindful about assumptions you make concerning what everyone may be wearing at the off-site conference, retreat or function at which you’re speaking. Just remember the poor guy who took the “casual dress” notice too literally and stepped onto the stage for a make-or-break, career-shaping presentation wearing Bermuda shorts and exotically patterned shirt, only to discover his audience of senior executives was in slacks and blazers.)