A lot of artists struggle with communication skills. If you find yourself to be a more introverted individual and speaking with clients and new people pushes you out of your comfort zone, know that you’re not alone. Communication is one thing that is worth working on no matter where you are in life’s journey.
Whether you’ve been raised to treat elders with respect or you just haven’t had a lot of practice speaking in a professional way, it can be stressful to break out of your shell and know what to say to other people. Luckily, with some practice, you can be a rockstar at talking to others and impress them with your eloquence and your confidence.
Don’t let nerves keep you from being the best artist possible and a good communicator. It may be quite the test of your current skills, but improvement is possible! There are ways to overcome shyness and grow your ability to speak to clients and other artists. Here are a few ways you can do that.
Communication May Not Come Naturally As an Artist
There’s a lot of advice out there to learn how to speak up for yourself and command respect. Unless you plan to give a speech in front of a large group, that old “picture them in their underwear” idea isn’t super helpful.
What may actually be helpful is to remember that the person you’re speaking with is only human. In fact, they might be just as nervous about your conversation as you are. Especially younger individuals who prefer communicating via text message or email over making a phone call or taking an in-person meeting.
Good communication skills are vital for an artist. Whether you realize it or not, taking commissions and understanding what a client is looking for is essential to creating the artwork that will allow you to get paid. Unless you only want to create art for yourself, communication is essential for the success of a professional artist.
You may consider good communication to be a soft-skill and one that isn’t needed much anymore, but you would be wrong. Luckily, there’s a lot of truth in the idea that sometimes you’ve got to fake it until you make it. So even if you’re not feeling confident, you can still try to muster up some “fake” confidence as you head into your next meeting.
When you can picture yourself succeeding, it’s far more likely you will actually find success. You may feel uncomfortable as you stretch your interpersonal communication skills and improve upon them. How you communicate shows others your integrity, don’t be overlooked for projects and jobs because you struggle with having a conversation.
But just like your artistic abilities, once you’ve exercised your talents for communication, you will likely find them improving over time and become at ease entering a conversation, regardless of who it may be with. Friends, clients, and employers alike will be impressed with communication growth.
Be Like Clint Eastwood to Overcome Shyness as an Artist
It may seem strange to say because Clint Eastwood isn’t often thought of as someone who speaks a lot, however, when he talks, people listen. His calm and collective manner allows others to focus on his words and meanings. He can draw attention even in silence because he has a presence about him.
The thing is, everyone has a presence. If you want people to focus on you, you need to not sulk in the background. It may seem unnatural, but there’s nothing wrong with daring to command notice. It may be scary, but standing out could be exactly what you need to get ahead.
Before a meeting, just take a deep breath, picture yourself as Clint Eastwood and go into the meeting ready to command respect. Part of being an artist is having a great creative mindset, so feel free to think creatively and visualize yourself as a strong individual who you think is a good communicator.
Whether you find that creating a work persona to be helpful or distracting, it can’t hurt to try and break through your fears. Visualization can be a useful technique to help relax you and offer you the chance to feel more confident in any situation. Using your inner strength and confidence can help you improve your abilities to connect with others.
Visualization can help you overcome your struggle with speaking to new people. Whether you picture someone you admire, or just think about how great it will be once you’ve been given the job and focus on the positive possibilities, having a can-do mindset and attitude can be life-changing.
The more frequently you practice visualization, the more likely you are to find success with it. For example, if you know you are supposed to give a presentation, you would practice, right? Well, take that idea and connect it with visualization. Picture yourself as an excellent communicator who isn’t nervous to speak at a job interview or when speaking with a client.
Add visualization activities into your everyday routine. If you decided to picture your success while you brush your teeth every day, that gives you two chances (at least!) daily to practice changing your mindset and improve yourself going forward. All of that can really add up to build your confidence.
You can even practice visualizing some of the problems you may encounter: a challenging request, telling someone no, or even overly harsh criticism. And through your preparedness, you can visualize how you can handle those moments with grace and ensure you won’t be caught off guard. Taking time to visualize the outcome you prefer is the best way to prepare yourself as an artist.
The best part of visualizing is that anyone can do it, and as you achieve your goals, you can focus on the next thing you hope you succeed at. Goals should always be a moving target, and visualizing can help you every step of the way. But it’s not the only thing you can do.
Develop a Mantra to Overcome Artist Shyness
If visualization isn’t your cup of tea, consider whether you may want to have a mantra to help boost you up when you’re getting into situations that make you nervous. Choose a phrase that makes you feel strong when you’re feeling weak, or can help you feel calm in situations where you are fearful.
Whether you make up your own phrase, borrow from a work of art or movie quote, or even opt for a religious text, having a go-to mental catchphrase could be just the ticket you need to create a positive shift and present yourself on a better foot. People may look at you strangely if you begin chanting in a public place, sure, but if it helps you grow and do better it can be worth it.
Having a great mantra can help change your mindset and set you off on a path towards greatness. There is a self-confidence that exudes from good communicators, so if that is what you aspire to be, then own it. Decide that you are brave and strong, focus on your mantra, and go into every conversation with the belief you can do it.
If you feel silly at first repeating the same thing over and over again, consider taking it to your artistic abilities. Incorporate your mantra visually using your own special skills to combine visualization and a mantra for successful integration into your daily life. If your mantra is on a canvas, and in your sketchbook and you speak it aloud it won’t take long for you to live it out.
Keeping your mantra at the forefront of your mind can help you to stay focused and motivated on your ultimate goals. What is it that you want as an artist? Fame? Talent? To work at a specific studio? A mantra can help you achieve your goals by helping you focus your mind on completing the necessary tasks to help grow.
Put On An Extrovert Costume to Overcome Artist Shyness
Okay, so you may be an introvert. That’s not an excuse to be a recluse, however. Even introverts need to be able to socialize. Introverts may not come by socialization naturally, but that doesn’t mean you can’t figure out how to embrace speaking to people you’re unfamiliar with.
Have you heard the phrase ‘dress for success’? Well, take it one step further and decide what a successful extrovert would wear and then choose that option. When you put on a costume, you’re not yourself anymore, you’re an extrovert who can do anything and talk to anyone. So find an extrovert costume that works for you. (Some people call these power suits.)
It’s likely that you won’t need to pretend to be an extrovert all the time, but it can be helpful during conventions when you’re trying to network, or meetings with potential clients or creative studios looking at your work. It can take practice to pull yourself out of shyness, it feels safe to hide away from those who may judge you. But it’s time to summon up some courage.
But taking the risk to try and become a little more extroverted can help you to expand your career as an artist in ways you perhaps haven’t even let yourself imagine. Just as you would take a new art class to learn something new or enhance your current skills, think of practicing being extroverted as an exercise to help you grow as an individual.
As you are getting used to being an extrovert (or at least acting like one), you can fall back on your mantra and also visualize positive outcomes. Whether you’re teaching a workshop or simply at a convention looking to meet some new people, the combination of pretending to be an extrovert, a mantra, and visualization is the secret to getting ahead and not limiting yourself with shyness.
A Final Thought
It’s okay to feel nervous as you begin the process of overcoming shyness. It’s not likely that you’ll wake up one day and be completely different. But if you take steps to grow as an individual, visualizing your day and goals, repeating your mantras, and practicing being extroverted, soon it will become easier to be confident in yourself.
It’s not enough to only work on your art, you need to continue to work on yourself as a person and learn to communicate to get better jobs and engage your audiences. Making time for your personal growth throughout your day to day life will be well worth it as you gain confidence. Just as you take risks with your art, take risks with yourself! Then you can talk to anyone without fear.
If you find yourself wondering what life could be like if only you were more outgoing: this is your chance to discover who you could be. You can show the world that you are an awesome artist and good communicator, the upside is as you build up your skills you’ll become more confident in your own ability and it will snowball into bigger and better things. You just need to start!