People often ask me the following questions: "Am I qualified to do this? Would they consider me an expert?" They tend to ask these questions before introducing their expertise, knowledge, skill or trade to a new audience who may judge them more critically. I most often hear these questions from colleagues who are embarking on a professional speaking career or have been asked to serve as a panelist or present workshops on select topics. They immediately begin doubting their abilities to deliver their knowledge or draw upon their skills.
I've asked myself the same questions in the past — seeking reassurance about a natural gift or ability I already possess. What qualifies me as an expert on something I can do effortlessly? How do I place a value on this?
So what makes someone an expert in their field? Merriam-Webster defines "expert" as "having, involving, displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience."
To further define “expert” I recommend using these five elements:
Understand that you were uniquely created with a message, skill or talent. This automatically qualifies you as your own subject expert. This is number one.
Does your message, product or service have gravitas (substance or "weightiness") that you can stand upon, making you a credible expert? Have you delivered something in the past that gives your presentation or service weight? If you lack substance, people will not listen to you.
Is your message, product or service something people can implement?
Does your message, product or service directly address the "pain point" of an individual, group, organization or society with specific solutions, tangible outcomes?
- Do you believe in yourself to confidently deliver on these things?
If you answered "yes" to these five items, not only are you your own personal expert, you are also a qualified industry expert. I can share with you these five points because I am also an expert. My next recommendation: Boldly go forth and share your expertise with us! We are waiting for you.
By Nicole Hayes
Nicole brings a strong background in consumer outreach, partnership development and media relations to McKinney & Associates. Many of her communications strategies were cultivated during her work with international public relations agency Fleishman Hillard Inc., where she developed and implemented strategies and media relations outreach for large consumer and government clients.
With her skilled foundation, Nicole sought a career to support her core belief that people make the best investments and launched her own D.C.-based media relations consultancy, Pieces of Life, to serve small businesses and non-profit organizations. She is committed to the mission that drives McKinney and its clients.