Sometimes my coaching clients tell me they need to improve their confidence. I tell them not to drop the baby on TV.
My office phone rang recently and I found myself talking to a producer for the KING 5 New Day talk show. He invited me to come on the show as an expert for National Handshake Day.
In two days.
I thought to myself, “I don’t know anything about handshakes.” I thought to myself, “I’m not an in-front-of-the-camera person.” I thought to myself, “This would be too scary.” I almost said no, the words were almost out of my mouth.
“Why not?” I told him. “Sounds fun!”
Two days to prepare. I didn’t sleep well that night.
My goal for that first TV appearance was to appear confident, regardless of what may be going on in my brain. I wrote up a list of what questions I guessed the host might ask. I wrote out, word for word, my answers. I memorized my answers.
When I say “memorized,” I don’t mean some kind of passing familiarity. I mean really, really memorized. My kids made fun of me as I practiced in front of the apple tree in our back yard. The dog looked at me quizzically as I practiced on him. Commuters looked at me sideways as I mumbled the script to myself on the streetcar.
Prepping for confidence is a lot of work.
I practiced how I would sit on that TV show couch; I practiced how I would do my makeup; and I practiced my words over and over and over.
The on-air conversation went well. I talk fluently about handshakes. The host and I laugh about how a handshake should be as firm as holding a baby (something I’d read and liked while I was researching handshakes two days earlier). I don’t think you can tell that I’m nervous, that I’ve never been on camera before, that I know no more about handshakes than you do.
I look… confident.
Confidence, I tell my coaching clients, is mostly about preparation. “How do I improve my confidence?” is not the right question, I say.
“How do I prepare?” is a great start.