The Confidence Trick

John Alexander Ball
7 min readDec 5, 2022

Confidence is a cornerstone of the charisma necessary to become a rising podcast star but what’s the trick to being confident?

We’re taking a break from the 7 deadly sins of podcasting series this week to bring you some key content on developing podcast star charisma which means you’re gonna need a healthy dose of confidence. This week the article is the podcast episode, so you are welcome to read or listen, or both if you really like. Next week we’ll continue with those 7 deadly sins.

Are you confident? The chances are that the answer is it depends. For many of us, it depends on the situation we find ourselves in. If we’re with people we feel comfortable with, doing things we know how to do or we feel psychologically safe and secure, we’re more likely to feel confident. If we’re in strange surroundings with people we don’t know, doing something new or feeling unsafe then we’re far less likely to feel confident.

Some people seem to be confident no matter the situation and there are those who just seem to lack any shred of confidence at all. When it comes to influencing others, confidence is a useful thing to have because it’s a very appealing quality. We tend to assume that confident people are justified in their confidence unless they demonstrate otherwise.

The late philosopher Bertrand Russell once commented that “one of the biggest problems with the world is that fools and fanatics are so sure of themselves whilst intelligent people are so full of doubts.” I can’t help but agree. We now know, thanks to the work of Dunning and Kruger, that people are often ignorant of their own shortcomings and we have a tendency to think we’re better at things than we really are. People who commit to daily learning do at least have more of a tendency to realise how much they don’t know.

My next episode is going to be with author Lee Carter who is an expert in persuasion and has written an excellent book on persuasion in a world where facts don’t seem to matter. There are so few new or original books on this topic that I certainly sat up and paid attention when I read Lee’s book which she was kind enough to send me an advance copy of, although it is out now to buy.

We buy into certainty, to such a degree that we’re far more likely to believe someone who seems certain than someone who lays out the facts. Facts don’t move us emotionally, they don’t create much response at all but certainty does, no matter how wrong the certain person may be. This is one of the reasons why fear is so powerful as a social control mechanism. We don’t usually rationalise our fears and they can end up irrationally controlling our behaviours until we do find a way to approach them rationally.

I do have to wonder why confidence is not one of Cialdini’s 7 weapons of persuasion when it’s such an obvious influencer. Certainly, it relates to other persuasion tools like consistency, social proof and authority but I’d be curious to know why he didn’t consider it a tool by itself. I hope to get the chance to ask him someday.

Confidence tends to make people seem more attractive, get listened to more and seem more charismatic. I suppose it is more how we are wired. Before human intelligence developed significantly, we operated more on instinct and we didn’t yet have reasoning tools to argue a point and make a case so we trusted our guts and went with our emotions and that was our best navigational tool through life. Whilst our brains have evolved somewhat and higher intelligence has emerged, we are not so advanced that we have left those emotional navigational systems behind.

A confident fool is more likely to be believed than an uncertain genius, which is perhaps just another way of expressing the earlier quote from Bertrand Russell. Most of us lack the critical thinking skills to be able to see the flaws in our thinking or to be able to determine that our main sources of information are heavily biased and designed to maintain a status quo. Probably the last thing any government wants is a nation of critical thinkers and so we don’t get taught those skills in schools or presented with balanced arguments in the media. We generally get told what to think and believe and often get slammed or even shunned if we dare to question accepted orthodoxy.

I’ve never been especially confident of my looks. I’d go as far as to say that I grew up thinking myself to be very unattractive. These days I care much less about such things and am also wise enough to know that no matter what you look like, there are people who will find you attractive for all sorts of reasons, many beyond the superficiality of looks alone. It’s hard to believe that when the media constantly bombards us with ideas of what is attractive and what is not. When people with some extra weight are simply called ugly or become the butt of a joke, there is every reason to believe looks are important but… only to a degree.

When I was a flight attendant, I remember working with a German crew member who looked fairly similar to me. We were the same kind of build and I would have classed us as having a similar level of attractiveness, although I don’t know if he would have agreed with that. He had something I did not: confidence and lots of it. Some may think his confidence is unearned or unjustified but he had it and I could see right then and there that it made him at least 10 times more attractive than I was. Confidence and charisma are attractive attributes that people are naturally drawn to which tend to make a person seem more physically attractive too.

I think we greatly underestimate how much difference things like confidence and charisma make to a person’s perceived attractiveness but if you’ve ever had the experience of walking out of the hairdresser or beauty salon feeling your most attractive and catching yourself in the mirror thinking, Ooh, I’m looking hot today, your whole energy and demeanour become more attractive, in the magnetic sense of the word. You may start to notice people looking at you and maybe even flirting with you.

Marilyn Monroe talked about being able to turn Marilyn the movie star on and off, as an energetic thing and we can do something similar although we often stop ourselves from doing it because we fear what others will think of us. She could keep her energy directed inwards and walk through a crowd of people without being recognised or she could project it out to the world and watch the crowds gather around.

Here’s how I like to think of confidence then, as something we can turn on and off situationally and quite probably should do so more often but we don’t until we feel safe enough to do so without risk. I’m not suggesting you take the risk, except that’s exactly what I’m suggesting. Confidence, like enthusiasm, should not be something we only get to feel when the external circumstances are right otherwise it becomes conditional.

How about instead we give ourselves permission to act with confidence, have confidence in who we are and show up with confident, not arrogant, energy? How about we take responsibility for being the cause of our own confidence and enthusiasm in how we show up each and every day rather than living in the external effects of people, environment and media which may leave us feeling less than optimal? One of the hardest things to do is show up with good energy, confidence and enthusiasm when life is getting you down or when the world seems like a horrible place. People will possibly think you’re mentally unstable if you’re not being ground down by life and stressed out by how terrible things are. Let them.

Remember, confidence is not about giving yourself permission to act like an arrogant know-it-all a**hole. It’s about giving yourself permission to speak your heart, to consider yourself a worthy equal even to those you perceive as having higher status, and not holding yourself back with your ideas and participation in making things better wherever you can. It’s about letting go of the fear of others judging you negatively or making a bad first impression. Most importantly it’s giving yourself permission to shine the best of yourself out into the world without fear, without shame, without doubt.

Confidence is a key aspect of charisma and the more of it you can choose for yourself, the more attractive you will appear, both personally and professionally. Mix this with the other key ingredients for charisma and you’re well on your way to being a key person of influence. At the very least you will start to notice your voice being heard more, people paying more attention to you and a greater willingness to speak up with your thoughts and ideas. Remember this though, confidence is not just in thought and mind it must be in action too.

Don’t miss next week’s podcast episode with Lee Carter on persuasion, make sure you’re following Podfluence on your preferred podcast player.

Next time I’m continuing the 7 deadly sins of podcasting with number 4! To find out what that is, be sure you’re subscribed to the Podfluencer Weekly newsletter either on LinkedIn, through the blog or on medium & Beehiiv.

If you’re a podcaster who would like to be getting more listeners and monetising your craft, make sure you’re listening to Grow The Show with Kevin Chemildlin and join me and over 4,500 podcasters in the GTS Facebook group. See you in there.

Categories: Newsletter, Podfluence



John Alexander Ball

Host of the Podfluence podcast. Professional speaker & ethical influence coach. The James Corden of podcasting, a chubby British guy who thinks he’s funny.