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I recently completed the Research & Evaluation course which is part of the PR diploma program at Ryerson University. The course involved doing in-depth research on a topic aligned to the field and pulling together a comprehensive research paper. Part of the evaluation was a presentation to the class on the group’s findings.

The class was held on Saturday mornings and consisted of a lot of group work and weekly meeting with the course instructor. These meetings were usually quite informal and took place over many a Tim Horton’s coffee and in casual environment. This was not high academia. That said, I was surprised by how at least one member of another group approached the final presentation of their findings to the class.

My group made a concerted effort to show up at the presentation in suitable attire. This was not a presentation to corporate executives it’s true. But we were being marked on it and a professional approach was clearly appropriate. What caught me by surprise was a member of one of the other groups showing up in a very low cut, mid-riff revealing, top. Completing her ensemble was a pair of what I believe are called ‘skinny jeans’. While there is nothing wrong with this outfit in general, it strikes me as being wholly inappropriate when one is being marked on a presentation and needs to be taken seriously.

Having done hundreds of presentations in my professional and academic life, I’ve always felt that it is better to be smartly dressed (no-one will criticize you for looking good). I work with the advertising community in Toronto and am often doing presentations where the person I’m meeting is in jeans and a t-shirt (and these are the heads of some very well known agencies). But when you are trying to convince someone that what you have to say has value to them, that your advice is credible and deserves to be taken seriously, the best place to start is with looking the part. Anyone have good stories to share along these lines?

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Written by Jonathan Dunn

December 19, 2006 at 11:52 am

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