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How Personal Presentation plays an important role in the workplace?

What is personal presentation in the workplace and why is personal presentation important?

Personal presentation at work

What is personal presentation in the workplace?

Personal presentation is how you portray yourself to other people. Your personal presentation includes everything from the way you look, to the way you speak and move. Personal presentation is part of the communication skills, and communication is one of the five important life and work skills you need to build as a professional. Personal presentation means the way you present yourself in everyday situations, including the most stressful ones like job interviews.

Your personal presentation is made of several elements including (but not limited to) the following:

Physical appearance

Your physical appearance is a major part of your personal presentation. It includes everything we can see about you from wearing clean clothes, having clean and brushed hair and being well-groomed to the colour and style of your clothes and accessories.

Body language

Your body language plays an essential part in your personal presentation. From the way you smile to the way you shake hands and your ability to make eye contact, your non-verbal communication significantly impacts your personal presentation.

Attitudes and behaviours

We can consider that your attitudes and behaviours towards situations and people are part of your personal presentation (and your personal branding). The way you speak to and get along with others definitely impacts your personal presentation and what people think about you. Are you being friendly, kind and polite every time you can?

Why is personal presentation important?

With the above definition of personal presentation, it seems essential to learn how to give the right impression through how we look, what we say, and what we do.

We know that within the first few seconds, we are judged based on our appearance and body language. No matter how relevant and interesting our message is, if our personal presentation is not appropriate, people will hardly listen to our message. Working on our personal presentation is the first step to develop effective presentation skills.

Our personal presentation is helping us to fit in by following certain codes of conduct and corporate styling principles. When getting ready to facilitate a workshop, I always adapt my personal presentation to the company I visit with a focus on the company’s industry. No matter how comfortable and fashionable my workout outfit looks, it is not relevant or appropriate to my activity.

A few years back, I was helping a client getting back to the workplace as a chef. She was having a multiple of interviews, she had amazing cooking skills but still couldn't find a job. She decided to use my personal branding and image consulting services to boost her success. The first (and last) coaching session was enough to understand what was going wrong and to adjust the situation. My talented coachee came to our session dressed for interviews and I could immediately spot that her issue was based on her personal presentation. She looked beautiful but she was overdressed for the occasion. She was wearing high heels, a lot of make-up, a complicated hairstyle and fake nails. I looked at her from a recruiter’s point of view and understood why nobody would hire her! The only thing a recruiter can think is that she will be late in the morning to get ready, she will then spend hours in the bathroom to stay stunning, she will never be able to stand on those heels all day, and she might lose a nail or two in the cooking pots and plates. My client dressed like that with the best intentions, to give a positive first impression; it was just not appropriate and relevant to the situation. Together, we selected a few appropriate outfits making her look like a chef at work instead of a fashion icon. Immediately after our session, she dared to reapply to her favourite opportunity and successfully got the job. I guess the lesson here is to dress for the occasion.

How to make the most from your personal presentation?

As mentioned above, the best thing to do is to dress for the occasion. Dressing for the occasion doesn’t mean that you need to change your entire style and feel like wearing a Halloween costume every time you get out. Dressing for the occasion is about adapting your own style to the situation. It might mean being more classy, trying to look more serious or professional, or if you are evolving in a creative environment it might mean showing off your creativity.

When feeling lost about the dress code, simply observe people around you; how do people dress on such occasions, what do they wear when working in this company? It will give you some guidance to pick and choose your outfit and accessories.

Because your personal presentation isn’t only about your appearance, you will pay attention to your body language and non-verbal signals as well as your behaviours.

Maud Vanhoutte

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