Liz & Vonda at Oct '11 Conference

As professional speakers, we prepare a speech. We practice the speech until it is part of us.  We’re ready to speak and impart our message. However, are we dressed to be heard without distraction or missed perception?

Meet the colors transmitting the message of credibility and authority: black, navy, and gray. These basic tones have been the foundation colors for professional presences for centuries, studies have shown.

Black is the color choice to make when we want to appear strong, sophisticated, and with authority.

Navy is the go-to color choice when our goal is to project trustworthiness, control, and conservatism.

Gray is the best pick when we need to blend in while establishing merits of reliability, dependability, and calm control.

The last few weeks, I’ve researched the emotions and perceptions that colors have on a viewer, according to scientists and writers. However, it was speaker and apparel expert, Linda Thomas who made me aware of these affects over ten years ago. She was on my list of 60 professional presenters I hired each year to bring added value to the students in the Professional Leadership Program (PLP) at the University of North Texas.

This certified development program was corporate sponsored for application learning beyond the classroom. Traditionally, graduates from PLP were hired into upper management positions even before graduation. I believe one of the contributing factors to their success was their ability to select appropriate credibility colors for their interviews and interactions with decision makers, a skill they learned from Mrs. Thomas.

I first met Mrs. Thomas in a break out session at a National Association of Colleges and Employer conference. Her website is a role model for speakers too. See what I mean at

What we chose to wear does send a preconceived message to our audience. Color choice may seem trivial, but the Gospel message is not. Therefore, learning about what we want to convey to our audience before we speak is part of our message too.

However for me, no matter the colors I wear on the outside, the inside color of my soul was changed from black with sin to white as snow by Christ’s outstretched arms on the Cross. This is why I’m automatically drawn to one wearing black and white in formal and informal settings.



Have fun looking through magazines for people wearing black, navy, or gray. Then write your first impression next to the photo. After you’ve finished, compare your words to the word list below that color experts, fashion designers, and interior decorators describe as the perceptions these three colors generate.

Powerful, sophisticated, formal, elegant, resilient, stylish, dynamic, authority, influential, confident, professional, prevailing

Committed, credible, conservative, effective, purposeful, casual, calm, stable, confident, conservative, secure, reliable

Stability, strength, non-emotional, secure, reliable, modest, dignified, mature, solid, intense, discreet, unassuming


What did you discover?  How do you typically plan what to wear for a presentation?

Speak on.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:3

Uplifting blessings,