Public Address and Dress

Public address must also be considered in terms of non-verbal communication.  It is not just in the words of a speech or advertisement, nor is it just the words typed on a social media site or blog.  Another form of public address is how you present yourself – choice of clothing and body language, which Humes briefly touched upon in his book.  Moreover, it is not just when you are giving a speech to an audience that you are communicating non-verbally based on your appearance, it is simply when you are walking down the street too.

In our everyday life, non-verbal cues and behaviors such as posture, facial expressions, eye movement, gestures, handshakes, tones, clothing, and personal adornments reveal who we are and how we relate to people.  People make inferences based on the way you dress, which can alter judgments and interpretations of others.  This is important to consider when you are on stage addressing a public audience.  Attire and body language should make you look credible and convincing at the same time.  Also, consider your audience when choosing your dress code, being dressed slightly better than the audience implies that you are established in the field or topic.  I think the best advice is not to overdo it and obsess, but to care.  Additionally, many believe that if your clothing choices make you look good, you will feel good about yourself, and therefore you are likely to perform better too.  Your appearance should boost your image, not embarrass you.  Look sharp and clean.  It is important for the speaker to make a good first impression to the audience, and if done correctly, you could gain a portion of ethos from your audience, before you even being the first sentence of your speech. 

Kara Brickman

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1 comment so far

  1. akdaniels919 on

    I absolutely agree with this. One of the things that makes public address unique is the component of having the speaker in person, and being able to see their body language and how they present themselves. If having the speaker present didn’t make an impact, we would simply read speeches all the time, but because we know that seeing the speaker makes an impact, we are more affected by public address than many forms of writing. Because the audience has much to attend to during a speech, presenting oneself in a confident, put together fashion is crucial because then the audience automatically views the speaker as professional before he or she has said a single word! Body language is a huge aspect of this — the audience should not be distracted by the speaker’s body language, rather, it should show the audience that the speaker is prepared, confident and an expert on what they are talking about. Clothing is also crucial. It is an easy way to make a good impression, because it shows the audience how much the speaker cares — if the speaker is dressed appropriately, and as Kara said, slightly better than the audience, it shows that the speaker values their opportunity to talk and made the effort to look good. I think by paying attention to body language and clothing, people can make a much bigger impact on their audience without even having to alter what they say in their speech.

    -Amanda Daniels


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