Amy Carroll » Ministry Development » What to Wear When You’re the Speaker

What to Wear When You’re the Speaker

Amy here.  Today I’m so pleased to introduce my friend and fabulous fashionista, Shari Braendel, as our guest blogger.  Not only am I a better person from knowing this amazing women, I’m also better dressed!  She’s had that effect on our whole P31 team, so Karen and I can’t wait to share her with you.

When you’ve finished reading her fabulous tips for speakers, please visit our new Pinterest site to see some gorgeous samples of outfits that pass the “Shari test”.

The worship leader finishes her last song and the emcee approaches the stage to announce you, the speaker. You mentally go over your checklist to make sure you didn’t forget anything. Speaking notes, Bible, power point in place, gum swallowed. Whew, you remembered everything. Or did you?

Confident in the topic God has given you to share, are you as self-assured in your appearance and what you’ve chosen to wear?

What you wear to speak is an integral part of your presentation, because how you dress, the styles you choose, and the colors you pick are essential ingredients to showing off God in the very best possible light.

Your clothes can be a distraction or hindrance to your message. If your audience is focused on your too-big accessories, outdated hairstyle or too snug skirt, then basically the package you’re delivering is brought to the party without the proper wrapping.

Follow these 8 easy steps to true confidence in what you wear when you’re the speaker!

  1. Wear clothes that reflect your style, are up-to-date, and fit well.  Too-big, too-tight and sleeveless clothes are no-no’s. Don’t wear bulky or sheer fabrics, or too short dresses and skirts. Unpolished shoes or bags with loose threads look messy. Check to make sure heels and toes of shoes are in good shape.
  2. When was the last time you had a compliment on your hair? If it’s been awhile, make an appointment to get your hair cut or colored in a current, flattering style. No crazy, trendy, outlandish hairstyles or hair color.
  3. Wear colors that makes you shine! If you don’t know what they are, get a FREE  Color Analysis at  and find out the hues that make you glow.  Don’t wear black or wild prints.  Many backgrounds of stage/curtains tend to be dark so if you wear solid black you can look like a floating head, especially if they project you on the big screen!
  4. Wear soft makeup shades that compliment your natural coloring. The colors of your makeup should coordinate with your clothing and line up with your color analysis outcome. Even if you’re not used to wearing makeup, you still need some for the stage. Foundation, mascara and lipstick are essential.
  5. Basic manicure and good hygiene are important. The best color for your polish is a neutral shade or French manicure. No chipped polish, unpolished nails or strong perfume, please!
  6. Wear a good fitting bra. Get measured by a professional at a local department store to get the correct size and fit. Bust lines hanging too low or your headlights showing are a major distraction. Be careful, too, of lacy bras that can be seen through your clothes. Your bra straps should not be  showing, nor should cleavage.
  7. Proper undergarments are a must. Wear a shaper to hide any extra fluffiness (it’s not fat anymore!) Be certain panty lines aren’t showing through your clothes.
  8. Wear the right amount of accessories…not too many or too few. Earrings, necklace, bracelet, watch and no more than two rings are a good rule of  thumb. No baby-size or gigantic jewelry.

Once you’ve covered this checklist, you can be certain the message you’re delivering won’t be overpowered by the clothes you’re wearing and your audience will receive you with no distractions.  God will shine through you in a brilliant way! 

Shari Braendel
Considered America’s most popular Christian Fashionista, Shari Braendel believes the reason most women don’t feel confident in how they look and dress is because they’ve never been taught how. The author of Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad, she speaks most weekends somewhere in the US helping women of all ages see themselves as beautiful while teaching them the how-to’s of putting themselves together. She is wife to Dave, mom to Luke and stepmom to adult triplet stepdaughters. She resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.








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  1. Shari is so fun! I always love hearing/reading her tips! Thanks for sharing!
    Blessings, love, and hugs!

  2. Great tips…this one will go in my Speaker file. It’s a keeper! Personally, and maybe a bit unfortunately, I totally get the wing-flaps. I’ve never heard that term before. It’s perfect and I’ve got em!! In all the excitement of getting ready for a speaking engagement we definitely need to test-run the outfit. One other thought…glasses! I have panicked more than once right before speaking as I frantically looked for my reading glasses. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve memorized my talks enough to do without my notes and my readers. So if you’re traveling and are dependent on those things…bring a spare pair and know where they are way before you speak. One time, I got to the podium, thought I had my glasses, but they had vanished into thin air. I tried to use it as an ice breaker in a way…as the ladies pointed to the top of my head. That’s where the glasses were!! All were good sports and we laughed together, but this was not the way I wanted to start my talk!!

  3. Some of these “rules” make sense, while others do not. What is the reasoning behind not wearing sleeveless tops/dresses? Another one is the manicure suggestion.

    One of my favorite speakers is Lysa Terkeurst. Evidently she doesn’t follow the sleeveless or the neutral manicure rules. Look at this video of her:

    She’s wearing a great sleeveless top with dark red nails. She looks fab. She looks like her unique self and not a clone.

    Wouldn’t it be better for each woman to cultivate her own style rather than look like a cheap imitation of someone else?

    Just a thought…


    1. Jenn,
      I’m not sure if Shari is still watching the comments, so I’ll attempt an answer that I think Shari would give… (Chime in, Shari, if you see this).

      Lysa and Shari adore each other, and they’re always joking about how Lysa breaks Shari’s “rules”. Shari would be the first to encourage you to be yourself and show your own style. Her main concern is that as speakers we don’t allow anything to distract from the message we’re called to give. Lysa is in fabulous shape, so nobody is staring at her “wing-flaps” while she’s speaking. I couldn’t say the same. 🙂 Priscilla Shire is another one with awesome guns! Some honest self-evaluation in the mirror is probably needed if any of us choose sleeveless.

      In one evaluation I did for a client, she looked absolutely gorgeous, but her jacket kept slipping off her shoulders as she spoke. She ended up fidgeting with her clothes through her whole talk. We talked about giving clothes a “test-run” before wearing them to an event. All of that to say…the principle to follow is to create an appearance that maximizes the beauty that God has given you without any distractions. There’s lots of room (and need) for individuality!


  4. Great tips! I would also add just one more. Most speakers are probably aware of this one, but this novice had to find out the hard way! Because most smaller churches still use lapel mics, leave your long necklaces at home. During my first retreat last Fall, my necklace kept hitting the lapel mic and I sounded like one of the “ghosts from Christmas past” dragging her chains. Ten minutes into the message, I literally had to stop and bring the necklace off over my head, dragging it through my hair, etc. I made it into a laughable moment, but it was still an unnecessary and not too professsional one 🙂

  5. Good word!
    I love the term first impressions are lasting impressions, and if we image is more than 60% of that impression, you are right, we need to make it a good one! We want those listening to hear what God gave us to share, more than they are looking at what He gave us.

  6. Thanks so much for the tips. I am signed up for the speaker track this year at She Speaks, and I need all the help I can get! 🙂 I tend to not wear much make-up and even less jewelry! I am going to need to dress myself up a bit. 🙂 Heading over to check out the sample outfits at Pinterest. Thanks for helping us out!

  7. Shari Barnard says:

    You will never be wrong following this advise! Will never forget a picture of a speaker wearing a burgundy blouse with a burgundy backdrop. Her top half disappeared & her whole presentation was lost while everyone tried to visualize what happened to her upper body. We watched blonde hair & legs for an hour. To this day I have no idea what she talked about!