By: Mandy Mitchell
Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence. -Vince Lombardi
I was a sports reporter in my first on-air job in TV news, better known among sporties as a “#3.” That means I didn’t have an anchor shift. I would fill-in, very occasionally, for the weekend sports guy or the main sports guy.
We had one of those old-fashioned intros to sports that included the name of the person anchoring. (I know some stations still use this. It was lame in 2004 and it’s super lame now.)
Anyway, since I didn’t have an anchor shift, I would always have to begin my sportscast saying the phrase “I’m Mandy Mitchell in for (name of other anchor).”
And this isn’t because I had a big ego and wanted my own intro or anything like that. It was simply because I started every sportscast with the idea of “Hey you watching, I’m not supposed to be here!” That vibe carried its way through the entire performance. I said the words and I believed I wasn’t actually supposed to be in that chair. Because of this, I delivered some absolutely brutal sportscasts.
I tell you this quick story to illustrate something: You MUST believe you belong in the chair you are in or you will not be there long.
Confidence is a very important part of this business no matter where you sit in the newsroom. If you think you are out of your league, you will act like you are out of your league and all of a sudden you will be out of your league.
So how do you build confidence? The easy answer is time, but we all know we don’t often have time in this business. It is very common to be “thrown to the wolves.”
This isn’t a problem for everyone. We all know there are people in the newsroom who ooze confidence. We may even say these people are “cocky.” I, from the very beginning, was not one of those people, so I really had to work at it.
The first thing to do is to realize you do actually belong where you are. You have done something to get that job and stand out among hundreds of applications. If it’s your first job, you no doubt busted your tail in J-school. If it’s your second or third job, you have been “paying your dues” somewhere.
There is really nothing special about the other people in the newsroom you are entering. They, too, went to college and worked hard and probably started in a smaller market. You have way more in common with the people around you than you think.
The second thing to do is to focus on preparation. So much of confidence comes from how prepared you are in any given moment. This means everything from knowing how to pronounce weird town names to preparing your mind to accept its first criticism from your new boss.
Think of what it is going to feel like under the new and flashy bright lights of that new set. Prepare for being nervous. Prepare for the thought to enter your brain that you may not “belong” here. If you think about that before you get into the situation, you are more likely to handle it with confidence and that will show in your performance.
This is not an easy thing to master. I still find myself in situations where I am not as confident as I should be. The key is to recognize that and work to change it.