Melissa McCarthy presented the Oscar for Best Costume Design at the recent Academy Awards. McCarthy wore an over-the-top, Alice in Wonderland costume jam-packed with stuffed rabbits. And as Bryan Tyree Henry's costume proved, bold patterns will attract the eye and capture the spotlight. McCarthy's bit was intentionally comedic and meant to elicit laughter.
Speakers are often unaware of what can pull focus from their face, voice and message. Culprits include index cards, glasses, or props. As McCarthy aptly demonstrated with her bunny puppet, anything in your hands can and will pull focus, especially if it moves.
Also be strategic about what you wear. High contrast outfits, as politicians and investment bankers love to sport, look starchy and shout "Uniform!" Instead, choose quiet colors that are complementary. When in doubt, go for a classic look and cut. Control the impression you deliver, knowing that audiences look for any anomalies or patterns. Keep it simple. Make viewers look to your face, so your message is never upstaged. And no bunny puppets.