What to Wear to Speak Up (on Zoom!)

I attended my first speakers and writers conference back in 2005, not as an attendee, but as an instructor. 

I was hired for two reasons. One, so I could assist the teaching staff with tips for dressing for their stage presentations during the conference, and two, so I could lead a workshop for women’s ministry directors to address similar material they could apply.

For the majority of each of those audiences, most attendees admitted they stressed about what to wear. Like, really stressed. High anxiety kicked in for many.

Are jeans appropriate or do I wear dresses and skirts? What if my outfit is too casual and others are dressed up? Do I have to wear a jacket when I meet with publishers or present my talk during my break-out group? 

If you’re reading this article, it’s likely you’ve had some of these same thoughts and are grateful this year’s Speak Up Conference is virtual! You can attend in your sweats and favorite T-shirt and no one will know…or will they?

That depends if you will appear on screen, which most of you will, even if it’s from the waist up.

For Zoom meetings, and this conference in particular, the most important area to take into consideration is waist up, concentrating specifically on the region above your chest which I call the “Impact Area.”

Here are nine ways to make the most of your appearance on screen so you show up and present yourself (and Jesus!) well at this year’s Speak Up Conference!

  1. Wear pop colors like red, teal, blue, turquoise, or purple, for example. Steer clear of all black, and all white. 
  2. Wear a layering piece like a kimono, blazer or jacket. This makes you look more professional.
  3. Wear a necklace and earrings to complete your look. Choose a medium size for both if in doubt about what size to wear.
  4. Choose a classic makeup look. Wear lip color in a medium shade and one that’s not too shiny. Foundation, blush, eyeliner and mascara are also recommended. 
  5. Your hair should be modern and styled well. No hats or unkempt hair. The only exception to wearing hats is if you are wearing one for a medical reason.
  6. Manicured nails are important if you’ll be showing material, or if you talk with your hands.
  7. Wear non-reflective lenses if you wear glasses. 
  8. Good lighting. Sit with a window or natural lighting in FRONT of you, not behind you, as this will cast unnecessary shadows on you and others may not be able to see your face.
  9. Pay attention to what’s in your background and add a plant, flowers, or screen if you need to block out a messy area.

Don’t stress! Plan your outfits ahead of time so when you show up on screen, you’re confident you look your best. And hey, you can still wear sweats on your bottom half!

Some things to ponder:

  1. Have you ever considered that how you dress is a reflection of Jesus? You may be the only representative of Him that someone meets.  Just like the cover of a book represents what’s inside, what you wear represents you—and Him.
  2. Plan your “Impact Area” outfits for this year’s conference.
  3. If you don’t know your best colors, take a free quiz at www.colorcodequiz.com 


We hope you can join us at the July 14-16 Virtual Speak Up Conference.  You can choose the writers’ track or the speakers’ track and you’ll be so encouraged by faculty members who are taking personal appointments (via ZOOM) to give you expert advice.  Need scholarship assistance?  Email Bonnie@speakupconference.com for more information.

Keep reading our other posts:


  1. PAMela G Mutz on 2021-07-06 at 12:31 PM

    Ditto Sheri! Thank you, Shari! Your video was packed with lots of info!

  2. Suzanne Kuhn on 2021-07-06 at 9:25 AM

    Fabulous information, Shari! I went shopping at my favorite consignment shop last week just to look for necklaces that will complete my look. Thought of you.

  3. Sheri Hawley on 2021-07-06 at 8:29 AM

    Excellent advice as always, Shari. Thank you! Blocking out time to plan my outfits this weekend.

  4. Carol Kent on 2021-07-05 at 10:58 AM

    Thank you, Shari Braendel. This is such important advice! The Speak Up Tribe appreciates you.

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