Nelson Mandela had charisma and a towering presence but he was not a great orator. His impact as a communicator owed more to his appearance than his speeches. Featured in the Mail, extracts from Nelson Mandela Portrait Of An Extraordinary Man by Richard Stengel revealed some fascinating mandela 1insights into his belief in the importance of appearance:   

“We strive to judge people by the content of their character, but Nelson Mandela understood that sometimes the best way to help others see your character is by how you appear. All his life Mandela was concerned with how things looked–from   the colour of his shirt to how straight he stood. Although a man of substance, he knew that appearances matter and we only have one chance to make a first impression.”

“He took to wearing custom-made silk shirts in glorious African patterns. They became his sartorial signature; people called them ‘Mandela shirts’. Beyond his enjoyment of the vivid colours the shirts symbolised anew kind of power- African , indigenous, confident. The shirts were a statement.”

mandela 3“Mandela was aware that images have tremendous power to shape the way how we are perceived….he cultivated and curated images of himself.

‘Appearances constitute reality’ he said. That belief underpinned his genius at what ‘sociologists’ call impression management.”