If you’re thinking of dying your gray hair, don’t do it if you’re a man, says the famously gray-headed anchor Anderson Cooper.
“In the TV news business, gray equals gravitas,” writes Cooper in a funny column posted to the CNN.com website. “In fact, in just about any line of work being prematurely gray is an advantage. On a guy, gray hair says, “I’m mature, stable. I can be relied on.”
Note the qualification, “On a guy.” Cooper admits that there is a huge double standard here.
“Women don’t get a free pass,” Cooper writes, admitting that our sexist society doesn’t favor gray-haired women in the same way it favors men.
Speechworks doesn’t take a position on whether you should color your hair or not. Plenty of men with gray hair are terrible speakers. And plenty of women with gray hair are wonderful speakers.
But people do judge us based on superficial things. An accounting firm told us how they had lost a pitch for a new piece of business. When they asked the decision-maker why they weren’t selected, they were told, “Your expert didn’t have enough gray hair.”
Frankly, hair color is pretty low on the list of priorities for improving your speaking skills. We say, “Be yourself and do what makes you comfortable.”
If you really want to improve your skills, focus first on improving your voice energy. Speaking with passion. Engage your listeners with more intense facial expressions. If you’ve done those things, no one will care about your hair.
Joey Asher has worked with thousands of business people helping them learn how to communicate in a way that connects with clients. His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations” is available now. He is also the author three previous books including “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition”, “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.”