I came across these presentation tips this week on the BusinessWeek site, reminding us that, whether we like it or not, others will judge us by the way we dress. The tips include looking better than everyone else, ensuring you have the right fit, paying attention to your footwear, and dressing appropriately for the event or culture.
Last night was the season premiere for the second season of TNT's drama series, "Raising the Bar." I only caught one or two episodes of last year's season, so when I was asked to review this season premiere, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. As it turns out, it dovetailed nicely with the above tips.
Raising the Bar revolves around the cases and lives of young lawyers who work in the public defender's office and the district attorney's office, and the courts and judges before whom these lawyers practice. The stars of the show include Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who plays idealist Jerry Kellerman, a public defender known in part for his long hair and unconventional methods. In fact, this season's premier episode opens with a montage of comments by lawyers on both sides of the aisle wishing Jerry a Happy Birthday -- and commenting on his hair.
Jerry soon finds out that the other lawyers aren't the only ones taking notice of his hair. During voir dire, as Jerry is questioning jurors about what kinds of people they trust, one juror indicates that he trusts 'the other lawyer' but doesn't think he'd trust Jerry because of his appearance - including his rumpled clothing and his long hair. As luck would have it, Jerry's attempt to have the juror knocked off of the jury for cause is blocked by the judge, and he's out of peremtory challenges - which means he's stuck with this juror.
To the shock and suprise of all involved, Jerry arrives for court the following morning with a new haircut. (As it happens, his client owns a barbershop). And when Jerry's client throws him a curveball during the trial by failing to testify as planned in an attempt to show support for his nephew, Jerry uses it to his advantage by harkening back to the theme of trust from jury selection. He exhorts the jury to decide based upon whether they found his client to be trustworthy.
Did Jerry's new haircut have an impact on the jurors' decision? It probably didn't hurt. Even unconventional Jerry may have realized that, despite his personal preferences and personal style, being in a leadership role - particularly one in which your job is to persuade others - sometimes requires you to dress the part (i.e. dress appropriately for the situation and the culture).
Raising the Bar is produced by Steven Bochco, producer of many a well-known TV series. I'm interested to see how the rest of this season develops, particularly with the cast Bochco has put together. In addition to Gosselaar, Gloria Reuben (formerly of ER) plays Kellerman's boss, 'Roz' Whitman, who announced last night that, due to heavy caseloads, she'll be stepping in to try more cases, and Jane Kaczmarek, who plays Judge Trudy Kessler.
Last night's episode also featured Roz's first foray back into the courtroom, in which she respresented a hockey mom involved in an altercation with another parent at her son's hockey game. Roz's client's financial situation precludes her from posting bail, in contrast to the other mom involved, whose husband is a well-known and financially well-off business person, raising questions about what the client's best course of action will be, since she is a single parent with a child in need of care.
Interested? Watch Raising the Bar every Monday night at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) on TNT.
Click here for more tips on public speaking and dress code. (Hat tip to Kevin O'Keefe)