The right shoes for public speaking success

This might sound strange, but a wise choice of footwear can supercharge your public speaking and presentation style.

This may sound weird, even stranger than my usual impressive oddness, but…

I didn’t do so well with a presentation last week, and I wonder if my shoes were to blame.

I'd bought a new pair, which were tight, and uncomfortable, and my feet didn’t feel happy throughout the entire talk.


Why is that important?

Well, I’m a great believer in what the legendary actor Sir Alec Guinness did as soon as he landed a new role.

He would immediately go out and buy a pair of shoes he believed that character would feel comfortable in.

By building the character from such an important foundation upwards, he thought he could make them far more credible and believable.


In simple terms, shoes matter, and we can tell a great deal about someone from them.

They also help us in terms of our confidence, energy, and all-around way we approach the world.


So, coming back to the point of this blog:

Here are the four fundamental factors I've come to conclude are critical in choosing the right shoes for public speaking and presenting.

Just to be my usual tease of a storytelling self, I’ll reveal them in reverse order:


The heel

At just over 6 feet, I’m reasonably tall.

But I always feel a small extra lift gives me a little added authority and confidence.

There’s also something about a heel which gets your poise for public speaking right:

It puts you on your toes, full of energy, and ready to perform at your best.


Soft soles

I dislike being trapped behind a lectern, and tend to roam free when I speak.

It conveys much more command of the moment that way.

In order not to distract the audience, such a trick requires soft souls so I’m not clomping around.


A softness underfoot makes me feel I can anchor myself firmly, which gives me a sense of reassurance.

Feeling contact with the floor is also somehow calming.

Small points, but they can be important.

Particularly if it’s a big moment, like a pitch for investment or customers, where you should always take any advantage you can.


Out with the new and in with the old

It’s tempting to go out and buy some new shoes if you have a big moment coming up.

But I would counsel against it.

New shoes are rarely comfortable, and comfort is important in public speaking and presentations.


You have enough to think about, remembering your words, storytelling, voice projection, body language, and so much more.

The last thing you need is to feel itchy in a new top, or tightly confined in new trousers.

Tried and tested shoes are always best for a big moment.  


Be smart

An audience will judge you from the moment you step onto the stage, before you’ve even said a word.

Which means you’ve got to look as though you’re paying them due respect, and taking this opportunity seriously.

So even though your shoes may not be new, they have to be smart.

Not flashy: you don’t want them to distract from your words.

Just smart enough to show you’re serious about this moment.


Finally, why am I so sure that the right shoes can be critical in helping you make a good job of your presentation?

It’s because, after the talk I was disappointed with, I had another to do a couple of days later...

   - And it went much better

For that one, I wore shoes which followed all four of my founding principles above:

Smart but comfy shoes

So these are my new favourite friends for events.


By the way, is there anything I’ve missed about choosing the right shoes for public speaking and presentations?

If you think so, please feel free to let me know in the comments.

I’d be interested to hear.

Looking for something specific?