Why Speakers Should NEVER Photoshop Your Headshot

Imagine you’re in the market for a car.

Let’s say you’re into cute and classic – like this sweet little blue Volkswagon Beetle pictured here on the right.

You do all your homework. You search the internet, call dealers, ask loads of questions, read reviews, and are SO happy to have found THE ONE.

After you found your dream car online, part of the deal was you had to pay before seeing it in person. No problem, you think. “I did my homework. I’ve seen the photos. I asked all the right questions. It’s perfect. I love it.”

You wake up the morning you’re to meet your new car in person, so excited you can barely contain your enthusiasm to see the exact thing you’ve been dreaming of.

But when you see your new car – the one you already paid for – in person, it looks more like this photo on the left.

It’s a blue VW Beetle, yes.

It’s a classic, car, yes.

It has all 4 tires and runs as advertised.

It still has the same number of miles you expected; still has the same gas mileage; still the same number of previous owners.

But… in the photo you saw, from the other side of the car, there was no rust. And the gorgeous shine from the photo is noticeably gone. Suddenly, you have a sinking feeling in your stomach. This sort of looks like what you paid for, but it’s not exactly the same. You feel like you were lied to and now you’re not so sure this was a good choice. But it’s too late. You’re stuck.

That’s exactly how a meeting planner feels when they hire a professional speaker they have never seen.

They do their homework. They interview a bunch of speakers, read their testimonials, ask loads of questions, look at their photos and sizzle reel demo videos. They hire you and pay the 50% down and another 50% two weeks before the event. They spend their money on you before they even meet you in real life.

But then… when a speaker shows up NOT looking like their promo and marketing materials, they get a sinking feeling. “Maybe hiring this person was a mistake,” they think. And no matter how good that person is on stage, it’s likely they will never be referred because of that initial bad feeling of being lied to.

The feedback I get from meeting planners and speakers bureaus is they want to see what you REALLY look like TODAY so they know what they are buying.

As speakers, we can’t simply erase from real life things we think make us less attractive like: wrinkles, jowls, double chins, bump in your nose from when you busted it in a 3rd grade kickball game, bags/heavy skin under our eyes, gray hair, excess weight wherever we don’t want it, and so on. Of course most of those things can be improved or changed, some more easily than others, like getting your hair colored or wearing the right kind of cosmetics. But when you have a photographer use editing software like Photoshop to remove all that from your photos, then show up with all your “flaws” in person, people feel duped.

(Caveat: I don’t believe that bump in your nose, your wrinkles, or any of it are flaws, which is why I put the word in quotation marks. I think those are character features that make you the unique person God intended you to be!)

The very best thing is to show up for your professional photography session like the very best YOU in real life. Leave it to your professional photographer to get the best angles for your features as they truly are, use good lighting, the right camera settings, and have amazing timing to capture your real and true essence. Perhaps hire a stylist to give you a good hairstyle, choose an outfit that works best for the look you want to convey, and apply your make-up to bring out your best features while minimizing your flaws. That will be the REAL you, how you look in REAL life. Whatever happens in the camera will be a true representation of who you are. Skip all the crazy editing afterwards. Simply allow your true fabulousness to shine in all it’s glory!

Meeting planners and audiences will trust you and from there, your speaking gigs are on the way to AMAZING!

And by the way, here’s MY latest headshot, not photoshopped at all. Just me.

Felicia Slattery, Named Top 50 Social Media Influencer

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