I recently took a 3-month hiatus from my business to produce political commercials in Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina. Some of the candidates had never been on camera before, and suddenly they had to say things that made them uncomfortable. While they were able to confidently say the words on the TelePrompTer, their face told a different story. One of the candidates had done great work for her community and was truly qualified for the job. When we put her on camera, she had a hard time not laughing, grimacing or rolling her eyes when she listed her achievements. She adjusted and got through the shoot beautifully, but as we were leaving I gave her this advice: “Stand in front of your bathroom mirror and state your achievements until you can do it without flinching.” I offer the same advice to you.
When we speak to people, our faces are an open book of tics and tells that can signal insecurity or untruthfulness to our audience. A few weeks ago, I was editing a spot where, on every take, right before he said “I will provide the leadership needed…”, the candidate licked his lips. Seems innocuous, but it interrupted the flow from the sentence before, and made him seem like he didn’t believe his own statement. Licking his lips was his “tell”. We all have them. Blinking, fixing our hair, tilting our head, fidgeting.
Here’s a quick exercise. Write down one thing you have achieved in your business that separates you from your competition. Don’t use qualifiers like “My clients tell me…” Make it something direct, like “I design award-winning web sites”. Now say it out loud to yourself. Go to the bathroom mirror and say it so you can see what your “tells” are. Say it to a friend or partner. Have them film you on your phone, and give you feedback. Practice until you eliminate your tells and can even smile as you say it. It will feel silly but BOY will you be glad you did it once you find yourself in front of a camera or audience. And if you want some help “training your face”, I know a great coach.