Video Best Practices: What Should You Wear?
Among the projects we're working on right now for our video production Boston clients are two that are similar. In each, we're filming a business man giving a presentation. Each presentation will then be broken up into several short clips for posting to YouTube and to the respective websites.
Before the presentations, we were asked what each speaker should wear: suit jacket with shirt and tie; jacket and shirt but no tie; shirt and tie without a jacket; or an open-collared shirt. In both cases, as in all projects like this, our answer was the same: Who's your audience and what is the image you need to project to them - before you even start speaking?
Case #1 - A Technical Speaker
In the first case, the company provides training to technical people. All-day seminars are conducted in person at hotels and conference centers. The people who attend the presentation generally wear jeans or khakis and polo shirts or open-collared shirts. The presenter never wears a tie or jacket because it's important that the people in the audience feel as though he is a tech person like them.
The target audience for this set of videos is the same set of people who would attend the training. In this case, the best choice is an open-collared shirt or a branded polo shirt. A tie, or a jacket and tie, would identify him as not-a-tech-person, which would undermine the message he wants the videos to send - that he's a good fit for delivering the technical training his audience needs.
Case #2 - A CEO
In the second case, the CEO of a small start-up is giving a presentation about his company's product - a complex machine that saves time and money in large manufacturing plants. The audience for this series of videos will primarily be high-level managers and CEOs of mid-sized and larger companies, particularly in the Midwest.
Though this CEO mostly wears an open-collared shirt to work, our advice was to wear a suit and tie for the filming. Manufacturing executives at the level he's aiming for - and especially in the Midwest - tend to be conservative. To connect with them as a CEO he needs to project an image of being a CEO who is successful - as they identify success. It doesn't matter that he's completely confident and successful as a CEO in khakis. What matters is the judgment his audience will make about him even before he begins to speak.
What about women?
Women's wardrobe choices are far more varied than men's, but the rules are the same: dress so that what you're wearing conveys the right image to your target audience.
But, while the rules for clothing are the same, women have much more to worry about than men because their hairstyles are more varied, and they tend to wear more jewelry. And both hairstyle and jewelry will contribute to the visial impression that's created.
So choose your jewelry carefully. If your target audience is conservative, simple jewelry usually works best. If you want to project an image of being fashionable, you can wear more and more interesting jewelry.
Hair also makes a statement. If you use color or highlights and it's been several weeks since your last salon visit, make an appointment for a few days before your shoot. And if at all possible, give yourself extra time before the shoot so that if it's a bad hair day, you can re-do your hairstyle. Not only will you look better - you'll feel much more confident, and that confidence will come across on video.
Whether you're a man or a woman, it's important to plan how you'll look on video very carefully. Get inside the heads of those in your target audience and look at yourself through their eyes. What assumptions do you want them to make about you based on your appearance? Because, before you even start to speak, your viewers will make a judgment about you. And it's your job to make sure that they arrive at the correct judgment.