I recently caught up with Hardy for a wide-ranging discussion on leadership, success, and motivation. In our conversation I learned something that shouldn't come as a surprise to readers of my column—Hardy credits public speaking skills for most of his success. And, like other successful speakers I've profiled, Hardy worked really, really hard to improve his presentation and communication skills.
“My belief is that for any leader or influencer of any consequence, the number one trait that is necessary to succeed is their ability to speak, to communicate. I don’t care who you are or what you do, if you cannot speak and communicate effectively in front of people (staff meetings, funding pitches, recruiting top talent), your ability to speak is the essential skill set for a leader.”
If you were to watch a Darren Hardy presentation on YouTube you would see a speaker who appears confident and charismatic. He’s humorous and thought provoking. He commands the stage, uses strong body language, and doesn't rely on notes. In other words, he’s very polished and effective. Hardy attributes his success on stage as being 1 percent ‘natural ability,’ and 99 percent hard work. Hardy has made public speaking a focused area of personal improvement for the past 26 years.
“For example, I used to avoid humor because I thought the topic was too serious. I didn't tell personal stories. I thought they were a distraction, but now I know the opposite is true. I went on a focused, diligent pursuit to become better at storytelling. I learned that nobody cares about your success until they know you understand their failures.”