It’s Not What You Say That Matters


When it comes to influencing others, recruiting, selling or motivating people to take action, it has very little to do with WHAT you say.

Typically, however, this is what most focus on. Having trained many salespeople, recruiters, and even stage speakers, most of them are mostly concerned with what to say… what’s my script, what’s my presentation, what do I say when they have this objection, etc.

I was reminded of this principle because I recently had a colleague reviewing a transcript of a talk from a speaker friend of mine. She was very unimpressed and actually very critical. On paper, his grammar was less than polished, sentences were fragmented and many of his concepts left unfinished. She rated him a terrible speaker and someone of little influence. Then I brought her to one of his talks.

She was awestruck! It was the same speech, same words, same grammar and sentence structure, but he delivered it with such feeling, passion, energy and conviction that it moved her—deeply.

What is the difference?

This is wisdom that will forever affect your ability to influence, persuade, motivate and inspire others…

It’s not WHAT you say that matters, its how you FEEL about what you say. Words by themselves have little impact; it’s the feeling you put behind the words that give them power.

Jim Rohn taught me this analogy: Words by themselves are like little shirt straight pins; you know, the kind used in a new folded dress shirt that you have to take out before trying on or wearing. Well, imagine words being like tossing those little pins at you. Sure you will notice it, but you won’t feel much. Now imagine if I wired that little shirt pin to the end of a long iron bar. Now I could drive that pin right through your heart. You see, the iron bar is the feeling, the passion, the emotion and enthusiasm you put BEHIND the words, that is what has impact.

Here is another example to illustrate this important point:

Imagine a yellow house set back behind a white picket fence with a long walkway up to the front door. On the fence door is posted: Beware of Vicious Dog. You have to make a delivery and get a signature. You see that sign and shivers run down your spine. You creak open the fence door and get a few steps in and from the back corner of the house is the giant head of that vicious dog. He sees you, you see it and it comes charging at you, just missing your left ankle as you escape. While you are contemplating your options, up strolls a little girl licking a lollipop. Sure enough she goes through the same fence door and starts skipping up the walkway to the front door… and the dog is wagging his tail licking her heels all the way.

What’s the difference?

The dog sensed your fear and responded accordingly. The dog sensed the girl’s joy and responded accordingly. Same dog, no words, different reactions.

Humans, like dogs, communicate through feelings. Just like a dog can sense fear (deceit, incongruence, lack of conviction), so can humans.

Have you ever had anyone say everything right, but you just knew they were lying? What they said sounded reasonable, but in your gut, you just knew they were lying. People think they can, but they can’t really fool others.

I would say this is one of my greatest weaknesses and greatest strengths. I cannot lie, successfully that is. When I am uncomfortable, don’t like something or disagree, it is written all over my face and my body language reeks of my true feelings. I (literally) cannot/will not play poker because of it. Yet, at the same time, if I believe in something with my heart, I can be very effective because I radiate, transmit and transmute that feeling of conviction and passion in my communication.

That is what I am recommending to you. First, you cannot convince somebody of something you are not convinced of. You cannot sell something you have not bought wholeheartedly yourself. Then, before you communicate (recruit, prospect, present) words to someone, be sure you rekindle and reconnect to your true emotion for what you’re saying and then say it with the full passion and enthusiasm of your heart and soul—attach the iron bars of emotion to the straight pins of your words.

Do that and thousands will march in the direction of your command.

So after this reminder, what will you do to reconnect with your convictions and feelings before you speak? What will you do to be sure you resell yourself before trying to sell another? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.



90 responses to “It’s Not What You Say That Matters”

  1. Hi Mr Darren hardy, i was surprise when you presented the topic as ‘it is not what you say that matter but how you feel about what you say’. You have really giving me a new dimension.

  2. Hi Darren,

    Your blog was so timely for me today. As a business owner, I wanted to give back to my community. It’s not that I’m not busy enough. I believe in sowing and reaping and the principle that your “gift” will make room for you. A real “place” so to speak. I speak from my heart and I know that’s what really gets people’s attention.

    I wanted to start sharing my life experiences somewhere and so decided to get in touch with the local high school to see if I could volunteer to speak to some of the students. I want to help develop “life skills” in our future leaders. I think that falls outside of “just the book” don’t you? I have an appointment to speak with a class tomorrow. Your blog confirms the only speaking style I know and planned to use. I expect miracles from the investment I will make.

    I’m feel so passionate about this idea. My husband says, “Just give them a “taste” dear, that will be more than enough!”. I have been enjoying “Success Magazine”. It’s a wealth of inspiration and I can’t get enough of it.

    I have noticed you don’t seem to have many women speakers. I just want you to know, I would make myself available to speak any time. My company manufactures decorative surfaces for corporate jets, yachts and RVs. Very cool niche market and interesting story too. I felt like I was out of my league so many times. The key for me was just to never, ever quit.

    Can’t wait to read the new book . . . take care,

    Jan Shields

  3. Dear Darren,
    I enjoyed this article very much and totally relate to not being able to lie successfully – my body language is a dead give away. I look forward to future posts.

    Best Regards
    Joanne Sebok

  4. As always, Darren, nobody makes words go deeper into a man’s (or woman’s) soul than you do with your no-cost inspirational and Success motivation. Thanks a million!

  5. This is wonderful and very timely I might add. I have to do a presentation next week, and I this really helps to really reinforce things I have learned. I went to a seminar once and the host Paul Tobey told us, when we are speaking to an audience to come from a place of service. This means we should be thinking about our audience and serving them and not about how we look and sound. He says when we come from a place of service we will forget about ourselves and how we look, because we will be thinking about our audience and everything will fall into place.

  6. Sir Darren,

    Good Day!

    i like this article, no i love this, or maybe this is what i need..maybe i am not that confident enough..but i think its the belief or in anyhow its my conviction…

    thanks for sharing this to people like me…

  7. Well, they all have valuable information, but probably the November 2009 was a favorite – Osteen’s, Mackay, Maxwell. I like your professional interview style and the wrap up with action steps really helps to know how to use the information.


  8. Darren,

    I want to thank you so much because you have identified a blind spot in my ability to connect at a deeper level with my audience. I am good at proving my points, but that is not enough to convince the listener. They must experience the fire of a man with PASSION.

  9. Thanks, Christopher!!! Sounds like your lecturers should have been required to take your Theatre courses to learn the art of performance! :)

  10. Dear Chris, I loved this article by Darren. I think my energy is unfocused because I put all of my unknown failures ahead of my future success. I need to reconnect to that sureness and determination more then my fear and concern…
    I too have been sober and in the program of AA for over 20 years now. It was a huge struggle, big sacrifice and extreme makeover to become sober. I think I put my personal hardship into someone else’s mind and think “why would anyone want to do this”- it’s just too hard!!!!!!!!!!!
    Remember, those folks need us to be there to show them it is possible. To speak our truth about it and encourage their desire to succeed in life no matter which path they choose. Hopefully, wealth and sobriety!
    Thanks for sharing and keep going back and raise that hand high in the air! The world needs you to shout out your message!

  11. Darren,

    A few years ago one of my students wrote in my evaluation, “You are what you teach.” I have since embraced that statement especially when I need to remind myself to stay true to my passion. Does that statement represent that my words and body language are appropriately aligned? I thoroughly enjoy being an educator. Thanks for your good work. Be well,


  12. Great post and ideas! I agree that ‘feelings’ matter more then words. After all it’s our feelings that affect our body language. And our body language tells everything about us…even over the phone. That’s why when I’m on a call I stand up, it gives me more energy and this comes through in the tone and texture of my voice. I have found if a person is uncertain of what they are saying, you CAN hear it in their voice and see it in their body language. This is way I recommend visualization before an important meeting or event. It helps the individual see themselves as successful, and in turn they will feel and sound successful and confident.

  13. Darren, this is so interesting & most revelaing. The pin & bar anology is just it.
    What one says will only connect with the auditory sense of the listener, but the passion & believe behind what one says will always connect to the heart of the listener. I have always subvocalised my entire speech over & over before any presentation. It has helped in connecting my soul (passion) to my presentation.
    Thakns for sharing, I’ve learnt a lot in that piece.

  14. Thanks for another ENLIGHTENING post. U THE MAN Darren. It’s fascinating because this reminds me of EXACTLY what we learned in my university days as a Theatre major. In our Shakespeare class, we had take each line and truly imagine it, feel it, live it, and embody it till we owned it so that we can communicate a beautiful, authentic story to an audience. Then after my class I would go to a lecture with a monotone, stagnant, information-over-load professor and at the point, I wanted to rip my eyeballs of the sockets asking myself (can most of these professors take an acting class PLEASE to bring LIFE to their lectures [maybe like a TED lecture?) [not dissing higher education of course for all the professors out there, just my experience and ok- buckets of others.] :)

  15. Darren,

    Well said! Thank you.

    I am going home tonight and start by giving my wife an authentic french kiss & hug from the heart. Tomorrow, I will give the best of my authentic self to provide service that wow’s our clients and support that raises the vibration of our team.

    All my best,

  16. I couldn’t agree more! I gave a Toastmasters speech this evening (I’ve only JUST got back!) and was up against 3 other speakers. I won the “Best speaker” catagorie because of my “passion, enthusiasm and energy”. If YOU don’t believe it, noone else will.
    In complete contrast, I am currently working for a company that I DO NOT believe in and I’m having a tough time selling to anyone! I am, of course, now looking to change companies!
    Regards, Adam.

  17. Thanks, Dale! So glad you are finding value in all that we at SUCCESS have to offer. What has been your (and your teams) favorite resource thus far?

  18. Agreed! Excellent motivation, Harmony! Thank you so much for providing much needed support here in our community. Hope you take Harmony’s words to heart, 10022! :)

  19. Clare – I couldn’t agree more with your call and connect comment it’s what so few do (and hear am I breaking that rule myself) Please take a moment to connect with me on linked in or some other venue so that we can put that right in the future. By the way I went to your site and was very impressed – nice, appealing and most importantly ‘organized’. Kudos

  20. Great article Darren,

    Your analogies are great, love them!

    As a VP of my company I do a great deal of speaking, to my teams and to our customers. The products and services I sell and represent, I believe in “whole heartedly” therefore I do very well in that forum. I also spend a great deal of time helping others in a 12 step recovery program. I also believe with my heart that I know what I speak of, experience, strength and hope, it is not a sales pitch, but rather a genuine offer of help others expecting nothing in return. People hang on my every word, because they believe in what I’m saying (language of the heart). I know today that I cannot be nearly as effective when “selling” something that I do not have an emotional connection to. I have also spoke on topics/products that I did not believe in or know all the facts, and it showed, in the presentation and in my “gut”

    Thanks for all the wonderful articles and insight for your web site and contributors, I frequent your site often and always find value in what I read here. I also subscribe to the monthly success magazine and pass it on to my team each month. Truly inspirational,



  21. Dear Darren,

    I think it was great time i had in my life to read your “Designing the best 10years of your life”. Which really gives me light in my life to understand who am i? why im here? What to do? how to do? When to do?. Now to frame the clear picture please do help me by sending all the worksheets mentioned in that 16 issues.

    My interest and dream to become a speaker and motivator like you. For that what i need to do? Is there any course you provide? how do i become member of your team? I need to achieve this at any cost. Please do guide me, advise me the ways and means to follow.

    Eagerly looking forward your reply.

    Thanks for you and the almighty took me to your website.


  22. Thanks, Darren

    I have a big event on Saturday evening. I will be myself and just say what is the truth about what I do. I do have passion for it and now there is no need for rehearsal. Just speak my mind and beleive it.

  23. Passion inspires much more than mere words can. A few powerful words spoken from the heart wins me over everytime! Thank you so much for starting my day off the right way!

  24. Darren- Reading your post reminded me of one of the key points behind the book you recommended to me, “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.” When he gives a presentation he is passionate about his topic. The more passionate we appear on a subject, the more success we will have at influencing others views.

  25. Heh Darren, I’ve been going to A.A. for 9 years and I’ve been afraid to raise my hand and share. I’ve gone to rehabs and prisons to share my experience. I’ve put my best foot forward to try to sell the good life of sobriety. But I’m afraid I’ve been a bit weak. I’m going to pray and try to use the pin and bar analogy. And also the dog and child one as well. Thankyou for your positive gift to the world in all your works. Also I’m sorry for your loss of your friend Jim R. He is to motivation and influence as George Washington was to the founding of the country. He’ll be missed.
    God Bless

  26. Darren, Your point arrived pellucid. I, however, still believe that the primacy should always be on the conviction, as you pointed out rightly, and the next important thing should be the content. I think that is why the Gettyburg speech, Iron Curtain speech, or Mark Antony’s speech in Julius Caesar, and even most of the speeches of Kennedy, Clinton, and Obama were nonpareil because of both intense conviction and content.

    The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility does not seem to apply on your weekly Awareness Shocks on me! Thank you for thinking about us.

  27. Hello Darren,

    I’m with you: I can’t lie because it’s written all over, so I don’t play poker either.

    But not being able to lie’s led to one of my strongest suits, and every review I get from bosses, peers, and subordinates has “great guy, straight-shooter, honest, pleasure to work with because he doesn’t try to mislead or embellish”.

    I’ll take that.

    Best, Chris

  28. Isn’t it amazing that when we express our self weather it’s a service or a product and we come from the heart that the result is always a win for both party? when were not tie to the results that when we give our best and were unconditional with our love that the world becomes a better place to live. I believe in the magic of being loving and kind because there is nothing to lose and everything to gain, including good health.

    one must always start the day with laughter and joy…smile and the world smiles back to you.
    I am so happy that you do such an amazing job @ showing people how to be positive & to believe in them self.

    God bless and keep up the great work.

  29. […] It’s Not What You Say That Matters Category: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:22 am url=''; When it comes to influencing others, recruiting, selling or motivating people to take action, it has very little to do with WHAT you say. Typically, however, this is what most focus on. Having trained many salespeople, recruiters, and even stage speakers, most of them are mostly concerned with what to say… what’s my script, what’s my presentation, what do I say when they have this objection, etc. I was reminded of this principle because I recently had a colleague reviewing a transcript of a talk from a speaker friend of mine. She was very unimpressed and actually very critical. On paper, his grammar was less than polished, sentences were fragmented and many of his concepts left unfinished. She rated him a terrible speaker and someone of little influence. Then I brought her to one of his talks. She was awestruck! It was the same speech, same words, same grammar and sentence structure, but he delivered it with such feeling, passion, energy and conviction that it moved her—deeply. What is the difference? This is wisdom that will forever affect your ability to influence, persuade, motivate and inspire others… CLICK HERE TO READ REST OF POST […]

  30. Dear 10022 – I am sorry for your frustration, I have been there. What makes it the hardest is when you feel like you have no choice in the matter – remember that you do have a choice. Reclaim your independence. When I would feel like that – in the 27 years I worked for others before I finally made the break and started my own business – I would stop and remind myself that I am choosing to go to this job because it gives ME something I need. Whether I was there because I needed to pay the rent or make my car payment or buy food, I reminded myself that ultimately I was making a choice. I was choosing to pay the rent rather than move in with a friend etc. Once I remembered that it really was MY choice to show up for work or not – those petty people had less power over how I felt about my day – it was their choice if they wanted to be miserable and selfish – I had a bigger picture in mind and they were only a very small part of it – I was using them to get where I wanted to go – not the other way around. I hope it works for you – it did for me and it also taught me the things I needed to know to make it on my own.

  31. Darren,

    Thanks for your many helpful and inspiring articles.

    I really appreciate the monthly Success magazine CD interviews.

    You are doing a great job!


  32. Your right Darren, those are strong feelings! I witness this lack of conviction and belief quite frequently in the work place as a customer and as an employer. People who are just going through the motions are self evident. Their lack of the aforementioned attributes will eventually lead to a dismal end to their careers. It is very frustrating to see people wasting their time in a position that will become a dead end job for them. The most successful individuals I have met have drive and enthusiasm for what they do, they believe their product or service will truly benefit their customers. If a person is in a position just to earn a paycheck, it’s probably time to look at the job market. Thanks for your time Darren, it is truly enjoyable to read your blog. Just for the record, I would glady support a GNN

  33. Darren,

    Thank you for this insight-fullness. Many times in the businesses I’m in we talk about not being able to say the wrong thing to the right person. However this is why and so true.

    Thanks again

  34. Many have spoken about honesty and authenticity including Your last success cd. Say it, say it and again and every time it’s a reminder to us all to just be ourselves. It IS good enough!

  35. This could be the greatest revolution in personal development as a whole,it’s about time we work up to positive events and mind nurturing news

  36. Darren,

    Thank you for this powerful reminder that HOW we say it is what is most important.

    My mantra for years has been, “What I say is important but HOW I say it is even more important!”

    When I think about HOW Jim Rohn spoke, HOW Earl Nightingale spoke, and how so many of my favorite authors such as Louise Hay, Cheryl Richardson, Wayne Dyer, and Sonia Choquette speak it is clear to me that it is HOW they say it that makes the biggest difference. I can feel that they are telling me what they truly believe and I also know they live their words.

    I appreciate you sharing your feelings about this topic. Now, when I speak I’ll be more aware of the feelings I have about my topics. Thank you.

    :) Margaux Joy DeNador

  37. Darren,

    Oh and I forgot to add one of my life mottos: “He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.” Friedrick Nietzche

  38. Darren,

    I really enjoy your updates and emails from the course I took with you on designing the 10 best years of your life. I am and always have been a single mom with two children, forget about the child support, did it myself, and if he had half a brain he probably could have received alimony from me. I just have a passion for success and what I believe in. We have a kindred spirit and someday I am sure our paths will cross. Until then keep the emails coming.

    Best to you and your family!

  39. Darren as usual you brought us another nugget in the tradition of the late great Jim Rohn. Passion and belief are the corner stones of success. And not only are they the corner stones but they infectious and can spread from from one person to another. A person with passion and belief in something walk through life with a purpose and truly live life with passion. Those who don’t simply exist and dread every passing day.
    As two of the greats, W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill in this industry once said, “Live life with a Positive Mental Attitude – find the positive in everything.
    Thanks Darren keep them coming. I know that Jim and all the other greats would be proud of what you are doing. I know that I am! RJ

  40. Darren,

    Almost as important as speaking with conviction and passion is listening with the same ingredients.

    Take a simple, “How are you?” This has become one of the most obligatory phrases. If we respond, the body language of the listener usually denotes that the question did not need to be answered.

    In any discipline listening passionately is the sequel and super-charged quality to speaking that opens doors where no man dared to roam!

  41. Darren –

    You bring home what my Mom taught us growing up, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it”. Her point was to drive home the importance of the tone of voice, as opposed to your point. However, I think both are valid.

    I think you can make a person smile with your tone of voice, or your can (possibly) destroy a person’s day; it’s your choice.

    You must invest yourself in what you do, and care enough about others to do it well. One thing we seem to have gotten away from is treating others as we would like to be treated. If I were attending a seminar or a class, I would want the Trainer/Speaker to be excited about the opportunity; just as I would be.

    I look forward to your posts each week and have learned quite a bit; more than from many Business Courses over the years. I cannot thank you enough for sharing.


  42. This is so true.

    I only wish that the person whom we work for and subscribes to this magazine is smar enough to read this and read the comments.

    All she does is yell and scream and threaten people with getting fired when additionally she refuses to pay overtime for the hardworking individual in her employ.

    She pays only straight time and continues to be such a narcissist she is not respected and is an embarassement to all in the community.

    However, she is wealthy in money but has no morals or scrupples and is horrible.

    It is difficult to get another job in this time period but there willbe a munity and she will really have her reality meeting!

    Thank you for letting me vent.

    Your endangered servants!

  43. I agree whole heartily with you regarding the matter of having a Good News Network. That is why I don’t watch the news with life being hectic as it is there is very little place for negativity. Darren would make a fantastic host as well. Hey Darren if a whole morning show is much I am good with a podcast or radio version of the same concept.

  44. Darren this just reminds me of the lyrics of an old Banarama song

    “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it, it ain’t what you know it’s the way that you use it, that’s what gets results”

    Great posts as usual to bring us to our senses !

  45. I have always thought that if a person does not believe in what they are doing, whether in sales or service of any kind: they are a fraud. Period.

  46. Great reminder of the truly important ingredieant for success in communication. No matter the
    year or our level of education, we remain influenced by our senses that lure the emotions to control our outcome with the interaction. Thanks for the continued good work you do for all of us.

    God bless you, Richard

  47. Darren,
    Thank you for the winning last 2 minute touchdown!
    I have been spending the weekend reviewing everything I am doing in my presentations and wondering why no one is signing up. You made me realize that due to a painful back injury, I’m not using the energy and the conviction in my business presentations and way too many people know me as high energy. This article is the answer to my prayers and thoughts. Thank you so much.

  48. Hi Darren — hope this note finds you making it a wonderful day :-)

    There’s such great wisdom in the prior posts, I’ve learned much already, so thank you!! In answer to your question to us I find that your passion comes very naturally if you are doing what you are gifted to do. We’ll all have tough days and maybe days when we doubt we are where we should be, but overall if you have found the “do something you love to do so much that you would do it for free….then do it so well, you are paid well to do it” service or career, your passion and enthusiasm will never leave for long and it WILL be contagious and you WILL have ardent followers and TEAMmates. I hope that made sense!!! (Chuckle) :-)


  49. Wow! Yet another Grand Slam Home Run Tip! It’s the enthusiasm and energy behind your words, right? That is what people cannot resist. Thanks for this great refreshing tool! Will implement it, and be very mindful of the enthusiasm behind everything we say and do! Be super blessed today!

  50. Yes, I agree with you on this matter, Darren. As a lecturer, whenever I give my lectures, I find that students tend to respond better when they can feel the energy behind the presentation. That is why it is important, as you say, to put the feel, in what you say.

  51. Martin — what a priceless gift you rec;d. In a world enamored with “celebrity” you met the one in a million of human beings. I am a liitle envious 😉

  52. Darren,

    You consistently have my attention. Intelligence & Heart.
    Thank you for your thoughts!


  53. I once had the privilege of listening to Mother Teresa speak. In her simple manner of speaking her love and enthusiasm for her work screamed out at you. Afterwards I was again honoured meet her and shake her hand. Once again the strength in her firm handshake and sincere “Bless you” in her voice, the love in her eyes, towards me, a complete stranger, fires emotion in me each time. Recalling this experience just before I must speak on my topic reconnects me with “my why”. Despite this there are times when I fall into the “script trap” and totally destroy the presentation.

  54. Darren,

    Another great blog post my Brother. I like to pray or meditate on the thoughts, feelings, and ideas I’m trying to inspire in others. As you have mentioned, if we don’t believe it and we aren’t genuine in our approach, they will feel it deep within. Thank you for Your Words, they have sent that iron bar of motivation, inspiration, and education through to my heart. I’ll gladly be the pin cushion for the strait pins of your words, anytime Darren. I’m eternally grateful, my friend.

    I also had an idea or suggestion for you Darren. I know it is your desire to have your own television show. This morning my daughter turned on the TV to check the weather, and left it on a news channel. I quickly got tired of hearing the negative news. I then had an flash of inspiration. I was reminded of your Morning Motivations on Facebook, and could see how beneficial a morning show would be with you as it’s host, sending people out into this world with the same inspiration that you give so freely of yourself. I see a winner here Darren. I’ve been laughed at by people when I say “Instead of CNN, we need a GNN (Good News Network).” I don’t think it is too far fetched. If anyone I know of can do it, Darren Hardy you’re the Man.

    May this be a blessed week for you. Much Love, Respect, and an Abundance of God’s Grace.

    Your Friend,
    Damien Balderrama

  55. Stating the facts to yourself with great conviction and out loud is an excellent motivator. It will certainly help to resell yourself on an idea.

    Thanks Darren!

  56. Darren,

    Another beauty my friend. Give me someone who believes in something every time over the cynic or the critic. Give me passion and enthusiasm and you have my attention. The pale introspection and discourse of logic may sway my mind and influence my intellect AFTER I have encountered the man with passion. But if you want to stir my soul and challenge my spirit and indeed influence me to follow you or get me to change my behavior you must have an unconquerable passionate belief in what you say and do.


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