Britain’s Got Talent’s Jonathan Antoine, opera singer extraordinaire has won something far more important than first place in the UK’s favourite talent show. Losing to a dog should not bother him one iota. The bigger prize that Jonathan has won is confidence and with that attribute the world is his oyster.
Without confidence you will generally fall short of your goals – because you don’t believe you can do it. And if you don’t believe in yourself then it’s unlikely anyone else will (other than your mother!).
So here’s my Top Ten Observations on The Importance of Confidence:
1. People pick up on non-verbal clues in all situations and especially in interviews. If you are not confident about your abilities they will instinctively ‘feel’ this and that feeling will make them uncomfortable. (Bit like a date picking up on the fact that you are desperate for a partner and running away as a result!) If an interviewer picks up uncomfortable vibes they are unlikely to give you the job.
2. Confidence is essential in most media roles and particularly in the most common entry-level job – that of a runner. Runners need to take care of guests, famous and otherwise; they need to communicate with all parts of a production team; they need to flag up problems they can see that others may not; they need to use charm to secure last minute props, tapes and favours. You can’t hide behind anyone because you lack confidence as a runner.
3. Confidence is essential when part of a film crew. Whatever your role in the filming you will undoubtedly need to make others feel comfortable and secure. If you lack confidence you will do the opposite. The sound person needs to fit a microphone on the chest of a buxom guest – she doesn’t want nervous fumbling! The make up artist needs to highlight and solve the problem of a visible spot on a guest. Not saying or doing anything cos you’re shy won’t win you any accolades when everyone watches the rushes back.
4. A producer without confidence is the producer from Hell! A producer needs to make sure the entire team knows what they are doing, having the confidence to change what isn’t right and to tell the superstar talent when they are getting it wrong. A producer must make decisions and have confidence in them. A producer without confidence will make a team feel insecure, unsure of what is expected of them; that producer will often avoid making decisions because they are not sure of them. Without decisions a team is lost.
5. A director without confidence is rare. In my experience a director is more likely to have an excess of confidence. Their ability to push their creative needs forward is admirable if somewhat annoying at times! Sometimes the confidence of a director needs to be managed – they may be confident of the beauty of their shot but are they confident of the safety of their team and talent? But you can’t even begin to direct a film or TV show successfully with being confident in your creative vision and your ability to achieve it. An entire film or studio crew plus production team are relying on the director to communicate clearly and confidently.
6. Networking is the most common and effective way of getting a job in the media. You need to approach people and companies that would rather you didn’t. You need to pick up the phone and ask to talk to a stranger to follow up on a potential job. You need to ask questions, make contacts and follow people to the pub in order to share information about yourself and find new routes to new work.
7. Confidence is crucial if you want promotion. There is no motivation to promote someone who is good in his or her job. Why promote an excellent researcher when they are doing an excellent job? You’ll just have to replace them with someone who may not be as excellent. To get that promotion you need to have the confidence to tell your line manager that you are ready to move on. You need to believe you are ready and have polished the necessary skills. You must be confident in volunteering to act up in a more senior capacity.
8. Confidence can be faked. There are plenty of shy people in the media putting on a good act when it’s necessary. The good news is that faking confidence can often lead to genuine confidence. Think it first and think it frequently, and eventually you will come to believe it – and once you believe you have acquired confidence.
9. Confidence is catching. If you are confident others around you will be and a team confident in the work of their colleagues is a happy and productive team. I’ve had to convince dubious presenters that I am totally confident about a novel format despite a few reservations of my own. Having given confidence to the talent they then went on to present the show with confidence and as a result it worked!
10. Being over confident is not helpful. There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance is actually helpful in some situations (many excellent and highly successful TV presenters I’ve worked with have a good dose of arrogance) but such arrogance has to have been earned. Arrogance in an applicant for a job, especially a junior role, can backfire. Don’t act like the media world owes you a living – it doesn’t – regardless of your qualifications.
Before going on Britain’s Got Talent Jonathan Antoine was shy, prone to depression and lacking in self esteem. Bullied for being overweight, lacking in confidence, no doubt disliking the way he looked and assuming most people wouldn’t be attracted to him.
An appearance on prime time television displaying a rare singing talent changed all that. But nothing changed in Jonathan – not in real, physical terms. He is no slimmer, no prettier, no more intelligent nor more talented. He didn’t even win the competition. The only thing that changed in him was his self confidence. It turns out most people don’t dislike him because of his looks. He’d allowed a few bullies at school to let think he was unlikeable. Now with people queuing up for his autograph and complimenting his skills he’s positively glowing from within.
It won’t be Simon Cowell who gives him a new life. It’ll be Jonathan’s new found confidence.
Be confident – you can do it!
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