So you're on a panel, what are you going to wear?


It is fall conference season and that means many of you will be attending conferences in full force both on the stage and in the audience. If you will be speaking at a conference, remember that your appearance often speaks louder than your words. Here is some advice about how to look your best:

1) What is your role? Are you a program associate or a CEO? Are you representing an established organization or are you with a start up? Knowing your role helps you determine what look you should project.

2) Audience Will there be 10 people in the room or 500. Knowing the audience size helps you pick an outfit that helps you stand out but not overwhelm.

3) Logistics Will you sitting in tall chairs or standing behind a podium. Figuring this out before will ensure that you don’t wear a pencil skirt and have to try to jump into a tall chair or non-matching socks that show as soon as you cross your legs (I’ve seen both, by the way).

4) Colors Find out what the backdrop looks like (ask your friend that’s on the planning committee). Try to make sure that you don’t clash with the colors that they are using.

5) Be comfortable Speaking at a conference is not the time to try new clothes. The last thing you need is shoes pinching or a shirt with buttons that come undone. Wear something that you know feels good and that makes you feel great. Uncomfortable clothes can make you look awkward and people are less likely to listen to what you are saying if you are spending the whole presentation adjusting your collar.

For great advice on professional clothing choices, check out the Corporate Fashionista Blog.

What's Your Platform?

During this election season, there is a lot of talk about political platforms but how much thinking have you done about your own platform to share ideas? Whether you are a program assistant at a community center or the CEO of a foundation, you probably have big ideas about how to solve the problems that you see in the world. If you didn’t, you probably would have picked a different field to work in. The best idea for change in the world doesn’t mean much if no one hears about it, except for you and your cat.

This idea of branding and building a platform for do gooders has been keeping me up at night. My greatest frustration is that all of the great marketing goes to the dumbest ideas, e.g. the marketing muscle that went into Snookie’s book “It’s a Shore Thing” (no link purposefully given because I am trying to save all of our brain cells). Where is that sort of marketing might when it comes to the recent college grad who is building a performance company to use improv to bring public policy ideas to life or the author who is breaking the mold on what a donor looks like or the organization that is building a nation-wide green economy by seeing residents of the inner-city as a solution, not the problem? Since they don’t have million dollar marketing budgets and prime-time commercials, I thought it was time to build a do-it-yourself movement for good idea marketing. I’ve built a branding book of the month club to help all of us spend some extra time building our brand. Not so you can be the next reality tv star but  so your great ideas can get the light of day. Learn more here.