Dressing for online meetings
Businesses spend a fortune creating products, meeting industry standards and procuring leads. Imagine spending hours preparing for an important online demo – the one deal that could take your business to the next level – just to come off as unprofessional due to your attire. Yes, that happens all the time, as you will see from the research below.

According to the 2015 After College Annual Survey, millennials sought out employers who would provide the ability to work remotely (68%), and follow a casual dress code (62%). However, researchers have found that dress code has an impact on our attitudes and work ethic, which means that millennials may have to reconsider their attire, at least during office hours. In this post, we’re going to explore some of the research and help you see how business attire can enhance your professionalism during online presentations, and to make better choices on what to wear while preparing for an online meeting, whether you are at home, at the office, or elsewhere.

Science Suggests Important Links Between Dress Code, Productivity & Attention

A Mikogo employee first noted his own change in levels of professionalism when he dressed well for a sales call with a law firm. He unequivocally states that dressing in a suit and dress shirt instead of casual attire made him act more professionally in the video conference. This experience is backed by several studies, listed below.

1. We judge people based on appearance

A video prank of five men dressed as gangsters singing Christmas carols in what was described as ‘the whitest neighborhood in the city’ has been making headlines on Facebook for the sole purpose of demonstrating that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

While this is no scientific experiment, nor professional, it does highlight the fact that people do, indeed, judge books by their covers, and people by their attire.

2. Clothing Style Affects Cognitive Style

According to a study performed by psychological scientists at Northridge, Columbia and California State University, our clothing has an impact on our thoughts and our ability to think in an abstract manner. It affects not only how others perceive us, but how we perceive ourselves. Likewise, according to a study published in the Human Resource Development Quarterly, “Respondents felt most authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when wearing formal business attire but friendliest when wearing casual or business casual attire. Significant two-way interactions were found between dress preference and mode of dress worn on self-perceptions of productivity, trustworthiness, creativity, and friendliness.”

Formal dress has an influence on how your prospects and colleagues perceive you. Studies have shown that employees feel more authoritative, trustworthy and productive when they wore business suits, and it has been proven that female applicants were more likely to be hired when dressed in a smart masculine style, as it created a perception of aggression and forcefulness.

Therefore, dressing formally for a video conference or online presentation should enhance your confidence and help your audience to perceive you as a professional.

Online Meetings Call For a Good Impression

Hajo Adam and Adam D. Galinsky introduced the term “enclothed cognition” in their study, published on Sciencedirect. According to these researchers, there is a symbolic meaning to the clothes we wear, as well as a physical experience. They performed a pretest, which found that people were more careful and attentive when wearing a lab-coat, and it increased sustained attention when described as a doctor’s coat. When told that it was a painter’s coat, the subjects showed no increased attention. Therefore, people perceive us, based on the symbolic meaning they attach to the type of clothes we wear.

What you wear to your online meetings depends on the outcome you are trying to create, based on the psychological perception you want your audience to form about you. A dress shirt is always a good choice for professionals and creatives alike.

Entrepreneur published an infographic based on a study done by 34SP.com, which found that:

  • 20% of workers believe that only “slackers” wore casual dress in the workplace.
  • 55% of workers believe that business attire enhances productivity.
  • 66% of respondents believe that senior managers should dress up more than their employees.

When it comes to choosing the perfect outfit for an online presentation, Bridgette Raes, president of Bridgette Raes Style Group and author of the book Style Rx: Dressing the Body You Have to Create the Body You Want, has some of the best tips available for the ladies.

As I’m reading this, I can almost hear the collective grunt from my remote working readers. After all, for some people one of the perks of working remotely is that you don’t have to consider a dress code. However, according to Alan Henry of Life Hacker, that’s one of the best ways to stay motivated and avoid those frequent home-based distractions and general slacking off.

Let’s hear it from you: What’s your go-to wardrobe choice for online meetings?