Confidence Part 5: How Naked is Your Public Confidence?

How much is genuine confidence, as opposed to overblown bravado, tied into your ability to be real, to be authentic with the people who want to know more about you and your art?

We humans have amazing internal radar that picks up bs automatically. It’s a survival instinct, where knowing what’s real and what’s not has always been crucial.

We also have some equally amazing internal barricades that can rewrite our first, instinctual responses and kick us upstairs into the more civilized Brain Override Lounge.

Sometimes this is a good idea, when our instinctual response is actually triggered by an old pattern that no longer makes any sense. Other times it’s a form of personal delusion, when facing something authentically is going to ask more of us than we feel up to.

Either way, the people around us will…perk up when we are being authentic, and shut down to some degree when we are not.

If our confidence cannot pass the authenticity test, that’s when people’s eyes glaze over or someone else takes away our conversation ball.

However, there’s a problem with authenticity we are not talking about, which can compromise your ability to engage collectors and buyers with the kind of confidence that inspires people to buy your art.

Authenticity—an ongoing buzzword

In our new professional world, carried along the tides of social media, connecting with like-minded, kindred spirits is considered the relationship heart of marketing and sales.

If you can’t create a relationship with your audience, your people (whomever they might be), then your marketing efforts will have a hard time gaining traction.

So understanding authenticity as it relates to your confidence–one of the cornerstones of “relationship marketing”–is essential.

Except, there’s a problem with authenticity

On the face of it, authenticity seems to be a straightforward state of being that we either have or don’t have.

But consider what authenticity is asking of you.

It’s asking you, in the moment, to be real about what you are doing or saying—which is assumed to be a reflection of what you are thinking, which is always a reflection of what you are feeling, whether that emotion is available to your conscious mind or operating from the unconscious.

This means, at the professional level, that authenticity is a lot like taking off your emotional clothes with acquaintances or downright strangers.

A character in the television series, Smash, plays this out perfectly.

Julia, the writer for the musical production at the heart of Smash, does take off her clothes, inappropriately, then spends the following sequences being upfront and disarmingly authentic about the ongoing fallout.

Her authenticity, or you could read “brutal self-honesty,” is refreshing and surprising since most of us could simply not pull it off.

Because, for most of us, sincere authenticity feels alarming, vulnerable, and, well… downright exposing. Naked.

So, we hedge. We do a “half-authentic” spin, somersault off of, maybe cleverness, or self-deprecation, or turn the spotlight on someone else, or become the sarcastic critic with a wit, or company clown.

How to be authentic and keep your clothes on

There are endless variations to the almost-but-not-quite authentic game we all play in some situations when getting emotionally naked in public is just too threatening to our personality.

Sometimes this is sound judgment, given the situation and the people. Sometimes we’re just unprepared.

If you understand from the outset that authenticity carries with it the thorn of vulnerability, you can make decisions about what is real that you are comfortable sharing, and what is real that you are not comfortable sharing at this time.

Otherwise, you are at the mercy of reacting to a subliminal message of vulnerability in whatever way you react to anything that makes you feel too exposed, too naked.

People are always going to ask you about your artwork. Coming out with clichés—beauty, light, inspiring others, etc.— may be comforting laziness, but guaranteed it will work against you, as will witty deflections or superlatives.

Taking the time, in advance, to write a descriptive sentence about your art means you’ve had time to acknowledge the clichés, move past your own barrier to self knowledge, the “I don’t know what to say about my art,” and can present yourself and your art with confidence.

Once again, confidence equals competence

When you have competence for talking about your art, you automatically generate confidence with an authenticity that pulls your listener closer, creates a sense of trust and allows you to create a relationship that can lead to a sale.

A juicy, engaging descriptive sentence about your art accomplishes this for you when it does two things:

1. Creates enough curiosity so your listener will want to hear more.

2. Gives you a language handle on the whole point of why you do what you do.

When you write a descriptive sentence, it takes the pressure off of you having to spontaneously come up with something. It will keep you from floundering in the cliché swamp and put you in control of what you want to share.

And most of all, it will give you the confidence to engage people with authenticity and what is real. Then your audience can connect with the artist and the art.


For a limited time, if you purchase the “Home Study Edition” of the smARTist Telesummit 2012, I will send you a bonus worksheet on “How To Write A Descriptive Sentence About Your Art.”

To get your bonus, email me your Order Confirmation email with the word “Bonus” in the subject line.

Click here to read about the “Home Study Edition” of the smARTist Telesummit 2012.



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