The Secret To Becoming An Expert In Anything

by drjim on October 6, 2009

Audiences Seek Speakers Who Are Experts To Teach Them

Audiences Seek Speakers Who Are Experts To Teach Them

If you forget all of the advice that you’ve ever been given about speaking, then please at least remember this: audiences come to hear experts speak. No matter how badly you stutter, lose your place, don’t make eye contact, etc. an audience will always forgive a presenter whom they believe is an expert in what he/she is talking about.

What Is An Expert?

Great I hear you saying, but just what is an expert? It turns out that this is a pretty simple question to answer: an expert is someone who knows more about a topic than the audience does. It really is that simple.

It’s not easy to become an expert; however, it is possible. The key to success is to transform yourself into a non-stop learning machine that is never satisfied with what you already know.

How Can You Become An Expert?

Shawn Doyle is a speaker who has looked into the whole “become an expert” thing and he’s found the secret. He says that the key is to get motivated and stay motivated.

Perhaps you thought that learning stopped when you got out of school? Sadly some people do; however, with any luck they are out there sitting in your audience. It’s really not that hard to acquire additional knowledge if you know the secret of how to do it. At the heart of knowledge is books and it turns out that, just like your mom told you all those years ago, the more you read, the smarter you’ll be.

Are you groaning yet? Complaining that you read magazines (while you are standing in line waiting to check out at the supermarket) but you haven’t read a book in years? It turns out that the time that you spent in school was just a brief part of your overall life (hopefully) and continuing to learn is something that you need to keep doing for your entire life if you want people to show up and listen to you.

Steps To Becoming An Expert

Another name for an expert is “learner“. If you want to find a way to work learning into your already busy schedule, then you are going to have find out how to find the knowledge that you need in order to wow your audiences. The good news is that I’m going to tell you how to do this.

Learners read books. They might also watch TV, they might surf the web, they might do a lot of things, but most importantly they read books. Not only do they read books, they have a plan for what books they are going to read. They create a monthly list of the books that they are going to read. They add books to their list by asking other people that they know and respect what books they are reading.

If you are going to become a learner in order to become an expert, then you are going to have to start doing more reading than you are doing today. Here are some suggestions for how you can make this happen:

  • Create A Reading Budget – you create a budget for everything else in your life, why not reading? By doing this you’ll know how much you have to spend (and when you have it to spend) when you are surfing the Amazon.com and BN.com book web sites.
  • Get A Library Card – remember the library from your childhood? Good news – it’s still there. No matter where you live, no matter how big or how small your local library is, almost all libraries have some sort of inter-library loan program that can provide you with access to just about any book that you might want. Check it out!
  • Become A Sale Shopper – you don’t have to buy the newest books immediately when they come out. Look for the slow seasons and stock up then. Right after Christmas most books stores have great sales so that they can get rid of the extra stock that they bought for the holiday season.
  • Befriend Local Used Books Stores – when I lived in Dallas there was a bookstore called Books-A-Million that was huge and always seemed to have a book in the area that I was looking for. If you don’t have a local used books store then you can always make use of half.com which is Ebay’s used book store.

Other Ways To Become An Expert

With all that being said, reading books isn’t the ONLY way to become an expert in your selected area (although it is the best way). You can always supplement your reading by doing additional things like:

  • Searching The Internet – however, you need to remember that you can’t always trust what you find on the Internet. Verify, verify, verify.
  • Ask Questions Of Smart People – seek out people who know more about something than you do and take them out to lunch. Ask them questions and then pay attention to what they have to say.
  • Read The Newspaper – yeah, just like your parents used to do. You just might be amazed at what you find out is going on around you.
  • Watch DVDs – no, not Hollywood films, but rather instructional ones that will teach you something.
  • Attend Seminars – since you are trying to become an expert, take the time to go see other experts and learn from them – how did they get their knowledge and how do they use it.

Final Thoughts

One characteristic of an expert that many speakers never realize is that they are always growing, always changing. One self-help book that I read awhile back had a great way of putting it. The author suggested that we should plan on reinventing ourselves every year – sorta a you 1.0, followed by a you 2.0.

By doing this you will always have fresh and interesting things to tell your audiences about and they will always be interested in hearing what you have to say.

Make the effort to become an expert and you’ll be able to intimately connect with your audience and make an lasting impact in their lives.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The purpose of giving any speech is to be able to reach out and connect with your audience. No matter whether you are trying to inform them, entertain them, or convince them to take some action, none of this can be done unless you are able to make a connection with them. What you say is an important part of doing this, but did you know that what you wear also plays a role?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ilene Packman October 8, 2009 at 8:38 am

Reading up on a subject does not compare to experience. I want an expert to have walked the walk and not just read about it.

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Dr. Jim Anderson October 8, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Ilean: you make a good point; however, maybe you missed what I was trying to get at. As humans we are limited in how much we can learn / experience. No matter how much we have “walked the walk”, we may still not be experts — we know what we know. By reading about how other people view what we know we can “round out” our knowledge and only then will we be considered to be experts. All that being said, I could do a lot of reading and still not be considered a rocket scientist…!

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