My favorite American advertising slogan of all time is: “Never let them see you sweat.” I am new to this business of being a television personality, but I do have some tried-and-true tricks for exuding confidence on the air.
First, do your homework. I give myself plenty of time to study up on whatever subject matter I’m covering. It’s not as intimidating to talk to a global policy expert if you’ve spent the whole day reading up on their field. What is intimidating is trying to hold court on a subject you don’t know anything about. So don’t try to punch above your weight class.
Ask real questions that are firmly rooted in what you do know. If somebody’s talking about string theory, don’t be afraid to say,”Is this about string, or is this about math?”
If you’re talking to a military figure describing a fight in Baluchistan province, don’t be afraid to say, “What country is Baluchistan province in?” Or, “What was the fighting about there?”
Sometimes the very basic questions end up being the smartest questions, so ask what you’re really wondering. It’s also vital to pay attention to the answer you’re hearing instead of just focusing on your own next question.
Also, don’t be afraid to say what’s on your mind. I remember one time on Tucker Carlson’s show back in 2005, he said that Democrats who were against the Iraq war agreed with bin Laden. I was so mad at him for saying that, and on the show I just said, “Tucker, I’m mad at you,” which prompted a great honest debate we might not have had if I’d swallowed my emotions.
But it’s important to remember that being mad can sometimes undercut your ability to communicate. One thing I’ve learned about arguing is this: At the moment you most want to yell, make yourself speak slowly and quietly. It can help calm your emotions a little bit, and it makes people take you more seriously. Anybody who’s still screaming at you while you’re speaking calmly is going to look like an idiot; they’re also probably going to feel like an idiot and stop doing it.
The time I felt the most confident in my whole life is when I fell in love with my partner. The confidence came from feeling all doubt fall away. That’s the purest kind of confidence I know.
Rachel Maddow is the host of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.
(Material is from the article The Seven Different Kinds of Confidence Every Woman Needs, Glamour Magazine)