Why developing presentation skills is essential for leaders and influencers

Communication and presentation skills are essential components of effective leadership. Although many people believe feeling confident with public speaking and having strong communication skills is something you are born with, Darren Hardy insists these skills are largely cultivated through practice, according to Forbes.

Mr. Hardy, an entrepreneur since the age of 18, public speaker, publisher of SUCCESS magazine and author of "The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster," attributes 1 percent of his own success as a public speaker to natural ability and 99 percent to hard work. In fact, Mr. Hardy said he has been continuously working on improving his public speaking skills for the last 26 years.

This hard work can lead to big payoffs — according to Mr. Hardy, leaders can leverage much more influence if they possess strong speaking 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," Mr. Hardy said. If you cannot speak and communicate effectively — for instance, in staff meetings, funding pitches and recruitment — leaders will find it much more difficult to achieve their goals.

In his own presentations, Mr. Hardy "commands the stage" using strong body language, humor and thought-provoking questions, according to Forbes.

Becoming an effective speaker requires continual practice and is a process of trial and error. Mr. Hardy used to avoid using humor and personal stories in his speeches because he thought they were distracting, but now he believes these devices serve as effective tools of communication by establishing connections with the audience.

"I went on a focused, diligent pursuit to become better at storytelling. I learned that nobody cares about your successes until they know you understand their failures," according to Mr. Hardy.

Communication and presentation skills are becoming increasingly important for healthcare leaders as CEO and executive engagement — both internally and externally — play a bigger role in establishing company reputation and even influencing market value. A leader is the face of the company's brand, and speaking is one of the most important marketing tools for expanding brand and its reach, according to Forbes.

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