Confidence Booster: Why overconfidence can lead to poor public speaking

When you think of the word “overconfident,” you might conjure up more negative than positive surprisingly given the root word “confidence” is a good thing.

But being overconfident can lead to complacency or a lack of effort, and while you hear that phrase uttered mostly in sports, you also can apply it to other walks of life.

Even work, specifically public speaking.

Ask anyone who is adept at public speaking, and they’ll tell you that they’re confident about their ability, but not overconfident by any means. That confidence they exude comes from practice, understanding the ins and outs, good and bad of public speaking and subsequently embracing the former and pushing away the latter.

What overconfidence does as far as public speaking goes is leave said speaker in a false sense of security as it relates to the speaking engagement, sales pitch or lecture they’re about to embark on to what can only be assumed and described as a very important audience.

Simply put, just because you’re good at public speaking, heralded or lauded in fact, doesn’t mean you can slip from confidence to overconfidence.

You still have to embrace all the things that got you to where you are, such as understanding audience demographics, knowing who exactly you’re speaking to. If you’re in the midst of a sales pitch, who’s to say that overconfidence doesn’t render your speech too “cute” for its own good, rather than focusing on the facts of how you and your business can make the potential client more money or gain more customers, for example.

In addition to knowing your audience, you also have to practice as much as possible, no matter how many times you’ve done it. Taking a “been there, done that” approach might allow you to skate by on a few presentations, but eventually that mantra is going lead to more missteps than you’ll care to remember.

Eye contact, hitting and stressing the key points and getting down all your nonverbal cues or timing is what makes practice so important in public speaking. Those who do it are always on point, and seem as though they’re effortlessly speaking to a group. Even if you’re someone who is good, not practicing will only allow you to slip a few pegs in how you perform when you’re name is called.

Overconfidence is a key contributor to not practicing, whether you’re talking about speaking publicly or playing baseball.

No one is suggesting you shouldn’t feel good about yourself, your topic and your prep work, but doing so only means you’ll strive to be better, rather than absorb yourself in being overly confident each time you speak.