Why It’s Important to Dress the Part 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

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?

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