Every detail of your presentation matters – right down to the color of your clothing. This goes for men and women. However, since the necktie is often the most prominent feature of a man’s attire, the color of the tie is especially important for men consider when preparing for a presentation.
The colors you wear as well as the colors you choose to use in your presentation slides need to be thoughtfully orchestrated because colors influence behavior and emotions.
Before we explore the psychological impact of necktie colors, let’s quickly review why colors influence behaviors and emotions.
As explained in the video below, our eyes take in color and then communicate with the hypothalamus. Consequently, the hypothalamus sends signals to the pituitary gland. The cascade of communication continues to the endocrine system and the thyroid glands. The thyroid glands signal the release of hormones which influence emotions and behaviors.
Now that we have covered the basics of the physiological and resulting psychological impact of color, let’s look more closely at how specific tie colors are perceived by most audiences. I say most audiences because the impact of color varies between individuals, cultures, and demographics.
If the explanations included below don’t seem to fit with your scenario, follow your instincts. You know your audience better than anyone, and therefore only you can decide what colors will influence your audience in the best way. However the generalizations below are good rules of thumb to follow in most cases.
These days politicians and business leaders often wear red ties as a symbol of power, however red ties were not always used to convey a position of influence. In the early 1900’s male prostitutes wore red ties as a symbol of their profession, according to Esquire.
Thankfully you no longer need to worry that your red tie will signal an interest in a casual encounter, however you should be aware that a red tie still sends a strong message to an audience.
For example, during a study at Durham University, research participants associated red clothing with aggression and anger.
In addition, the BBC reports that red ties are often associated with ambition, strength, and passion.
Whether your red tie communicates aggression, passion, ambition, strength, power, or a combination of those characteristics, red rarely conveys trustworthiness. If you want to be seen as a warm, honest individual, avoid wearing a red tie during your presentation. However if you want to slightly intimidate your audience for some reason, red might just be your lucky color.
The color blue conveys trustworthiness and approachable intelligence. In addition, blue often inspires confidence as it is associated with police, navy, and pilot uniforms. And just as a blue shirt with rolled-up sleeves is a symbol of everyman, wearing a blue tie is an easy way to connect to the general public. The BBC dubbed blue the safest color to wear.
Traditionally associated with wealth and royalty, purple often communicates confidence and luxury.
Since many men avoid wearing the color purple, a purple tie can often draw attention – and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Wearing an unusual color is an easy way to demonstrate your pioneering personality as well as your comfortability in your own skin.
While a black tie is the perfect choice for a fancy affair, a gray tie is a better choice for most presentations. Black ties can often come across as pretentious when worn for anything but the most sophisticated events. A gray tie, however, will come across as modern, stylish, and thoughtful.
The most important takeaway from all of this is the fact that your tie will send your audience an impactful message, so you should never let your presentation attire be an afterthought. To better understand the message your tie will send to your audience, solicit feedback from candid associates who are similar to the people who will be in your audience. Let their feedback guide your style decisions. And remember: colors impact behaviors and emotions.
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