Confidence Trick – Act “as if”

Cary Grant (who was born Archie Leech) said “I pretended to be Cary Grant until I became him or he became me” this is a great technique next time you need a shot of confidence.

For example I was once asked to be a presenter on a sales video being filmed in an electrical superstore. Now this called for me to use an autocue for the first time (this is where the words appear in the camera, so you can read them without it looking like you are reading – just like news readers use). On the day of the shoot several things conspired to make me feel very uncomfortable and nervous. Firstly, no one told me the store would be open and would be full of customers, all staring at me. Secondly, just before we shot the first scene, the director asked me if I could make sure I hit all my marks. These were places marked on the floor to indicate where I should stop and, for instance, casually lean on a washing machine (the challenge with this is to do it without looking at the floor). Then he added, could I deliver my lines without my Yorkshire accent as the client didn’t like it. (Now this is a bit like casting Arnold Schwarzenegger and asking him to sound like Laurence Olivier.) And of course can I still do all this without it looking like I’m reading and have never used an autocue before.

So, as I stood there waiting for them to shout ‘Action’ I thought ‘Who do I know who is outstanding at doing this?’ Carol Vorderman immediately pops into mind (if you don’t know who Carol is, you have obviously never watched any British TV programme – she is in most of them). I know Carol in person, which helps, and have seen her many times on TV using autocue. I imagined stepping inside Carol’s body (not an unpleasant thought). As I did this I felt like I was looking out through her eyes and experiencing what was happening as she would experience it. Why did this help? Well, the first thing I thought was, ‘I’m the great Carol Vorderman, why aren’t more people looking at me?’ and ‘Is this all they want me to do?, what a breeze, I’ll get this in one take.’ That helped me relax and get through without appearing an inexperienced idiot.

So if you’ve never done something before just act ‘as if’ you have. Pretend to be someone else, over and over again. You may end up being as good as them. Or as Milton Erikson said ‘pretend you can do something then master it’

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