The problem with sounding confident on TV

LOTR_Two018EyeOfSauron“And now folks, for our next guest…”

You have an important interview on TV and you’ll be in front of the camera in less than an hour. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Hold that thought. 

I can say that it’s regrettably understandable to see so many people scared of the Audience, but they seem to lose it even more once they are in front of the Eye of Judgement, a.k.a. the Camera Lens. You can probably guess the reasons why this happens, such as fear of making a mistake… and will then most likely go to the studio with the idea “just say your lines and try not to make a mistake! Be confident and natural!”, which is, an even bigger mistake.

Whether it’s a TV or job interview, or a public speech, there is a temptation to “try and sound natural”, but it is exactly in this sort of effort that a natural voice is difficult to attain. Why? Because you are too focused on yourself.

It is like trying to run after the bus or going quickly down the stairs while thinking “I better focus on getting the knee-to-elbow sync just right, as well as try to feel my toes and breathing in each step!”. You would fall over the moment you really tried this. Instead, you focus on the goal – getting to the bus or down the stairs – and the body will get in the necessary position.

Similarly, a truly natural tone when speaking is not the result of focus on the tone itself. Rather, it is a consequence of the focus on the person(s) in front of you and the message you want to communicate. 

So, don’t ask “How can I sound more confident?”, at least not as the first question. First figure out who you’re talking to and what sort of impression/information/whatever you want to impart to them. The rest should flow from this, not the other way around.

“Fine, but I still want to sound really confident, how do I achieve that?” You’re missing the point. There’s another, less obvious reason why you shouldn’t strive so directly for a confident tone, and it is hidden behind this question: What is the purpose of sounding confident?

If it’s about proving yourself or showing to the world that you can handle Sauron’s gaze, ok, you’ve won – meanwhile, you haven’t really communicated anything. What’s the use of looking good on TV if no one remembers what you said? Oh, some people just want to look good on TV…

Incidentally, here in Serbia I often hear people saying how “Americans are much more used to public speaking, look how even regular folks seem so natural when they’re in front of the camera!”. No no no, most of those people talking to the camera may seem natural, they themselves might even be quite relaxed, but what most of them are doing is using their “sound-confident-on-TV” voice, which draws attention to itself and doesn’t communicate almost anything else.   

I know you feel like something is still missing and you’re right. There is a way to approach the issue of building up your confidence and natural tone, but it has to be done from a different angle. More on that soon.

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