Expertise: the skill of an expert.
Expert: one with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject. …Having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.
It’s not a good era for non-experts, is it?
And, expertise in one arena does not mean expertise in any other arenas…even related arenas.
Recently, I have been asked to provide some speech coaching for a couple of very talented, sharp folks. Experts in their fields. Dripping with expertise.
But, communicating what they know is the challenge. And they have spent so much time developing their primary expertise, they now need to develop a related expertise; how to communicate what they have learned so thoroughly.
One of the problems in today’s world is that we are all compared to the greatest experts.
We have seen so many exceptional TED Talks, and speeches, that we think that every speaker, regardless of the topic and expertise, should also excel at the speaking part of the equation.
And…that almost seems to be an unrealistic expectation; doesn’t it?
One of the ripple effects of this modern-day reality is that we have to keep getting better at everything –- every single thing — connected to our work. You may have really developed your primary expertise; but now, you have to get better and better at your secondary areas of expertise.
From her book Impact Players:
Get better (get good) at three of the five: (1) build a strong core by getting good at three of the Impact Player practices; (2) develop one practice into a towering, visible strength—something you become known for; and (3) eliminate any signs of under- contributor behavior.
The five are:
• Make Yourself Useful
• Step Up, Step Back
• Finish Stronger
• Ask and Adjust
• Make Work Light
Getting good at speaking, like any other endeavor, requires practice, with knowledge about what you are doing well, and a clear understanding of what you need to work on (something a good coach can help you with). What the experts on skill development call “deliberate, purposeful practice.” (See especially the book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericcson and Robert Pool. See my blog post: Peak: The New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool – My Six Lessons and Takeaways).
If you have your primary expertise, and you don’t get good at communicating what you know, people will actually assume you don’t know that much at all.
This is unfair. They are wrong; you know plenty.
But…the solution is not to bemoan the unfairness of their assessment. It is to get better at the area where you need to improve.
So, what skills do you need to develop that are related to your primary expertise? Identify them; work on them; get better at them…
I know this: communicating effectively is always…always…one of those needed related skills…