How to Make a Knockout Impression by Diane DiResta

These days, making an impression is no longer limited to actual meetings or interactions. Social media’s omnipresence keeps us on our toes, because it’s equally important to make an impression online, as it is offline. We are under constant scrutiny by our employers, employees and peers. Since we are constantly pitching, the ability to express and impress through both what we say and wear has a huge impact on our public impression. I interviewed our customer Diane DiResta, Executive Speech Coach and author of Knockout Presentations and Give Fear the Finger, and she sheds light on how we can maintain those good impressions in our professional lives. 

How did you get to know Jia and Jia Collection?

As a professional speaker I attend many events especially for women.  I met Jia at the SHE Summit, a conference for women. I saw Jia wearing one of her dresses and loved it. When I learned she was a designer of reversal knits, I became an instant customer and fan.

Diane DiResta  in the reversible silk/cashmere Erin dress and Jia Li in the reversible Arabella dress

Diane in the Erin Reversible dress and me in the reversible Arabella dress.

What do you think are the most important things to consider when choosing what to wear as an Executive Speech coach?

It’s important to dress for the culture, venue, and client. I work with corporations and my target markets are senior leaders and executives in the C Suite. That means I have to dress more formally and look successful and put together. Sometimes I dress more conservatively than I prefer. I won’t wear green nail polish if I’m working with a client that day. One of my clients is Michael Kors so I have two MK bags and I also wear my MK shoes. I may also show up in one of their dresses. When I earned my CSP (certified speaking professional) designation from the National Speakers Association, I wore a Michael Kors dress to the ceremony. I took a picture and sent it to the President who had hired me. She was thrilled to see it.

What do you like about Jia Collection? 

I love the quality and feel of the knits and the versatility of reversible clothes. The Erin dress is figure flattering and can be worn four ways. I get so many compliments on it. It’s silk and cashmere and travels well.

Diane DiResta wearing the reversible Erin, speaking at the International Live Events Association's Event at Glasshouse, New York.

Diane wearing the reversible Erin, speaking at the International Live Events Association's Event at Glasshouse, New York. 

As a busy woman who speaks at and attends many public events, dressing well all the time is not an easy task, any tips you can share? 

Again, dress for the audience. If I attend a financial services event I’ll dress more conservatively and may wear a suit or at least a dress or skirt with a jacket. Colors are often dark. As a consultant I have more leeway in my dress than a company employee. But if I look too fashion-forward it could hurt my credibility. People trust others who are most like them.  Being busy sometimes means traveling. Having one or two reversible outfits extends my wardrobe.  I could wear my red knit to deliver a seminar and could turn it inside out as a black knit to wear to the cocktail hour.  Always have an extra pair of panty hose in case you get a run at the last minute and have a mini sewing kit in case you lose a button or your hem is falling.

The ability to speak well and dressing appropriately are both important for leaving great professional imprint. Any tips on how to do both really well and how to best integrate them? 

In my book, Knockout Presentations, I say that the first impression is visual. We communicate the moment we walk into a room before we open our mouths. I check myself out in a mirror before I enter the room to make sure nothing is out of place. People first notice your clothes. I like to wear colors that flatter me and make me pop. That’s very important. The wrong color can make you look washed out. Also, the right fit is even more important than color. If the sleeves are too long or the skirt is too tight it won’t look flattering. I also dress for my body type and won’t wear the latest fashion if it doesn’t look good on me.

Once you enter the room make sure you smile, have a firm handshake, and know your elevator pitch. When someone asks “What do you do?” be able to answer clearly and concisely. Too many networkers talk too long about themselves and bore the listener. When you speak, maintain direct eye contact and avoid slouching and fidgeting. Your posture speaks volumes. Good posture conveys confidence. The goal is for your visual, vocal, and verbal messages to be in alignment. That means, how you are dressed, how you use your body language, the tone of your voice, and the words you use should be congruent. If the visual, vocal, or verbal message is out of sync, you’ll send the wrong message.  Speaking is the new competitive advantage. Your presentation is your brand. People with good presentation skills can manage perception and control their brand.

Diane Diane wearing our reversible Erin dress

Diane knows the importance of making an impression, whether it's with her clothes or her words. 

You travel often for business, how do you look polished all the time as a businesswoman on the go? 

The way to look polished is to get enough rest, freshen your make up, carry a small hairbrush, and wear clothes that don’t wrinkle. I would not wear linen when traveling. And to look polished, I arrive at my destination one hour early. That allows me to find where I’m going , relax, have some coffee, breathe and go over my notes. When I’m giving a keynote or seminar. I practice my presentation out loud in the actual room before the audience arrives. When you are on the go, it’s important to eat right and take care of yourself.

What kind of fashion you would like to see more in the market that is not available right now?

I’d like to see a wider selection of higher quality petites. I have difficulty finding clothes that fit. It would be great to find an outfit online in a Misses size and also to be able to order it as a petite. Technology will eventually allow us to send in our measurements and choose the designs to fit us. I value versatility so I’d love to see more reversible outfits as well as designs that flatter the body. I don’t like boxy or one size fits all designs.

Diane DiResta, CSP, is Founder and CEO of DiResta Communications, Inc., a New York City consultancy serving business leaders who deliver high stakes presentations— whether one-to-one, in front of a crowd or from an electronic platform.   DiResta is the author of Knockout Presentations: How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch, and Pizzazz, an category best-seller and widely-used text in college business communication courses and author of the ebook, Give Fear the Finger, She has unique ability to get to the core of the message and translate complexity into simplicity.

She is Past President of the NYC chapter of National Speakers Association and former media trainer for the NBA and WNBA. Diane is a Certified Speaking Professional and licensed Speech Pathologist.

The Erin dress worn by Diane is one of our best selling reversible/convertible pieces. It can seamlessly go from work to cocktails with just a flip of the dress. 


The four ways you can wear the Erin reversible dress.

The grey/beige reversible Erin dress is a wardrobe must have for any professional woman.

The grey/beige reversible Erin dress is a wardrobe must have for any professional woman.

I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing and learning from Diane and can't wait to read her book 'Knockout Presentations'. All of you should grab a copy too because presentation IS everything and you will definitely benefit from all the great advice she has to give. You can buy it here

Diane DiResta's book 'Knockout Presentations'.

Have a great weekend!


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