What Should I Wear? To a Speaking Engagement

Pamela Lutrell wears Chicos Leopard Jacket

Welcome to What Should I Wear?Wednesday …a discussion of what I wear for different occasions and how I made my decisions.  Today, I am discussing what I should wear when asked to speak at different occasions.  Of course, first I should say, that the type of occasion, time of the event, size of the event, and reason for the event all matter when selecting what to wear.

I could wear this outfit just about anywhere, but there have been times when I was asked to speak to a small group in a private living room that I wore jeans  I wanted to be comfortable and have the audience also be comfortable…if I was over-dressed for an occasion like that it might actually take away from the talk.  So often I am speaking to women as if we are good friends and peers, so I want to be received that way.   Today’s Chico’s jacket looks great with jeans and even leggings and could be worn to a more casual event like I have described here. 

Pamela Lutrell in a Chicos outfit for speaking to a group

I want an audience to see that I am intelligent, strong, approachable, current and creative...hummm, those are my style adjectives!  So they really matter when I am going before an audience.  If I am confident in what I am wearing, then I will smile, speak with authority, and attract the audience to the message of what I am saying.  I do not mind standing out with what I wear…after all, I am standing out as a speaker any way. 

So many times, how you look can determine if you will be heard.  But once they see you…your message and how it is delivered is up to you.  I love to speak to groups and I love to teach others how to speak to groups.  I taught speaking to teenagers for several years as a high school teacher.   It is not difficult to be a public speaker, yet, it remains one of the top fears of every adult. I teach a conversational style of speaking and not really a formal style.  I will give you a SPEAKING TIP.  A great place to start is by reading or re-reading Dale Carnegie’s HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE.  A lot of tried and true wisdom in this book.

Pamela Lutrell in red shoes for What Should I Wear


I told you Monday that I had a lot of fun this year at the sales events Chicos held after Christmas.  This jacket was only $20 recently.  I did have to size down to get some of the volume out of the jacket, but going a size down worked well.  I know it is still long but I like it… particularly with leggings or any slimmer bottom.  For this speaking event, I decided to go more professional and wear the jacket with Chico’s white pants, a black V neck top, a Chicos leopard and gold necklace, and these Carolina Herrera shoes in a color called Paprika.  I found these shoes at Marshalls a couple of years ago.  They are fun. 

I can definitely step out with confidence in front of a crowd in an outfit like this.  One of the reasons I tackled this topic is because a couple of ladies in the audience mentioned they were speaking to a group soon and asked what to wear.  Here are a few bullet points:

  1. Select an outfit you have worn before and feel completely confident in
  2. Make sure it is no fuss.  You do not want a button or broken necklace falling off in front of an audience. Fool-proof your look beforehand. Remember…wardrobe malfunctions sometimes make the news!
  3. Be true to yourself and your style messages, but don’t go with so much on that the audience is constantly looking at your outfit and not listening to you.  You should be wearing the clothes and not the other way around.
  4. No matter what you are wearing, make sure you look youthful and current. (but appropriate to the occasion)
  5. Wear something that makes you smile!

I have put together a slideshow below of garments I would wear to any speaking occasion.  I hope this helps with those who were wondering.  Would anyone like to add anything??

Thanks for being here…you are the best audience in the world.  I will speak to you any day.



  1. Excellent points, Pam! When I speak, I choose something comfortable that I feel very confident wearing. I like to stand out just a bit, but at the same time, I don’t want something that I’m wearing to be distracting to my listeners. That being said, there was one occasion when I spoke wearing a traditional Vietnamese silk au dai! I was the speaker at a church ladies retreat shortly after our year living in Asia. I spoke three times that weekend and wore the au dai for one of my presentations when it fit with the theme of what I was sharing. After all, how many opportunities does a gal on the Canadian prairie get to wear something like that?

    1. Hi Elaine, I just want to tell everyone that I do not know what happened to all of the comments or my slideshow. A few minutes ago, the post went back to draft and everything disappeared. I apologize to the other ladies who left comments all day! Perplexed!

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