Years ago, I entered the public speaking market. My first event was a homeschool convention at Salt Lake Community College and the second, the next day, another homeschool conference in the Salt Palace.
I was excited and anxious and untested. I prepared the best I knew how. And I bought a couple of nice dresses with jackets to wear — thinking that was the kind of thing people wore when they spoke to big audiences. (Aside, of course, from Steve Jobs, who thought jeans and turtle necks were the style of the day. Every day.)
When I got there, I seemed decidedly overdressed. The attendees were mostly moms, some with babes in arms, in very casual attire, with a sprinkling of dads, also in very casual attire. Still, being on stage seemed to indicate a more formal appearance.
As I wandered from class to class between my presentations, I noticed a number of other speakers. Most were dressed in accordance with the general population. It surprised me. I still remember one speaker, who donned jeans (“mom-jeans” to be exact), a tee shirt with a wrinkly open oxford over it, tennis shoes, and a wild, unkempt mane of hair.
Being my first conference, I thought quite a bit about it until a woman came up to me and said, “Your presentation was great. Thank you so much for dressing the part of a professional. Being homeschoolers does’t mean being slovenly!”
Working from home can make it easy to get sloppy. I work in slippers — always and without question. But I make a concerted effort to shower, dress, and fix my hair and makeup — just as I would if I was going to a job elsewhere. And I always wear a watch, so I can stay on track with my goals for the day.
You don’t have to wear Rolexes or a diamond encrusted Citizen Eco drive watches with stiletto heels to walk to your home office down the hall. But making yourself presentable and looking professional tends to go a long way. When we are dressed and ready for the day, we work harder. When we see others (particularly clients!) we look like we’re worth our fee. When we take our home businesses seriously, others will as well.