Too Much Confidence in Public Speaking Just As Bad As Too Little

Posted on Posted in Public Speaking

While being overconfident in public speaking is not common, there are some who tell me that they are not nervous when standing at the lectern. My question to them is, “Why not?” If you do not experience nervous jitters, a racing heartbeat, or some bit of anxiety, then I pity your audience.

Please understand that I am not talking about believing in yourself and your abilities. Confidence is something I want for all of my clients. Being overly confident, on the other hand, is an excess of one’s belief in one’s abilities. A few of the synonyms for the word overconfident are rash, brash, incautious, imprudent, and injudicious. Those words alone should give one pause for thought.

There is never a guarantee in any live venue. Whether it is a concert, a play, a sporting event, or a public speaking engagement, what happens during that specified time frame is not something that can be predicted. And, that is where a healthy dose of nervousness comes into play.

Heightened senses and a sharper focus are just two of the benefits that your rush of adrenaline provides. And that is what makes performances by professionals exhilarating to watch and hear. They put their nervousness to good use. If you believe that professional athletes, performers and musicians are overly confident, then you are sadly mistaken.

Actors and professional speakers who have given the same performance or the same presentation over and over again exhibit some form of adrenaline rush each and every time they walk onto the stage. It is normal; it is natural; it is expected.

Those whose confidence boasts louder than their humility, however, leave their audiences cold and indifferent because they are unable to bring a freshness and excitement to their words. They are so sure of themselves that they lose the wonderful spontaneity which results from being aware of and being able to respond to the reaction of their audience. That is part of the conversation of good public speaking skills which will vary from one audience to another.

Your audience expects you to display confidence in your ability: they do not want to hear your overconfidence.


If you would like to work on your presentation skills and discover your ‘real’ voice in the process, join me for my next 2-Day Voice & Presentation Skills Workshop, March 22 & 23, in Mt Laurel, NJ