The right way to demonstrate expertise

Earlier this year I decided I wanted to really start using my considerable time in my car to get through many books that I don't make enough time to read at other times during my day. Thank goodness for Audible. I started out getting just one credit a month with my membership, but I upgraded to two because I can definitely go through more than one book in a month. I'm officially addicted to listening to audio books. 

Except the not-so-good ones.

I'm pretty picky about which audio books I agree to buy. For one, I check out a lot of books at the library, but the ones I buy are not available in my library, or I'm one of hundreds waiting in the queue so it'll be years before I can read it. (I'm kind of impatient on occasion.) Therefore, it's a little frustrating when I start listening to a book I've vetted thoroughly and find that it's mostly just a way for the author to stroke their ego repeatedly to the captive audience of poor souls who bought the book.

One good thing I've gotten out of these books is some good advice I can give for those of you out there who are looking to grow an audience and exhibit the knowledge you have in your industry. 

People listen to voices they trust.

People listen to voices they trust.

If you want to build a platform based on your expertise, no matter where you create, no matter where you choose to share wisdom, no matter the medium in which it exists, these tips apply. 

1) Show, don't tell.

This is an old, but tried and true, adage about writing. It isn't just for fiction writers setting a scene they want the reader to become immersed in.

How do you show expertise in your field, though? 

Usually, you tell stories. One of my clients, Whole Therapy Ottawa, is doing a phenomenal job of telling the story of their clinic every day. The staff share personal experiences, and challenges. They're drawing their audience in with a challenge to #ChangeOneThing, and they're leading by example

For someone like me, who is offering services around using tools that are very visible, I show my expertise by practicing what I preach and then sharing with clients and prospects the various ways that my efforts have impacted my work. 

I'm often suspicious of people who have to tell and re-tell their qualifications. Who are they trying to convince? Me or themselves?

2) Tell stories to make a point, not stroke your ego.

One of the books I was reading included a story about a training that the author had gone through. They included copious details about the training program and the level of difficulty around it. By the time the author finally got around to making the point, I felt as if I'd been beaten over the head with this impressive history for so long that the point of the story - a pretty obvious point to begin with - was anticlimactic. 

This is the second book I've read that the author has chosen to repeatedly bring up the same major facts about their life to illustrate different points. It comes across as a humble brag rather than a way to illustrate a point.

I love a good story that makes a valid point. I love when the point is made easier to remember through the story. Your readers will know the difference between life situations that taught you a lesson and lessons you apply to stories you think make you cool or inspiring.

3) Repetition is a valuable way to learn.

Ask yourself, though, whether you want the reader to learn about your really cool story and life history, or do you want them to learn about the point you're trying to make, or the product you want so badly to sell.

One of the books I read that has actually helped me make major changes over this past summer is also one that I have a really hard time recommending. The author has a smart concept, but (for me) ruins the delivery through constant mentions of the program they've developed and various ways you can use the program to make the changes they suggest, usually tied in to a couple of major events in the writer's life. It's like listening to a 5-hour long infomercial at times. 

Deliver value first. Give concrete information that readers can use help accomplish something in their lives or business before you start trying to sell them on your genius programs. Just like the ego stroking stories, repeatedly mentioning your programs and how life-changing they are makes one wonder who you're trying to convince.

Bonus tip: "Expert" status requires continuous work

I've been called an "expert" or "guru" about various different things, which is both flattering and a little uncomfortable. You see, I know that there's a lot I don't know yet. There's a ton of ideas I haven't ever tried yet. I may never get to all of them, but I love the learning process and I will continue learning.

Showing your audience that willingness to keep learning and growing in your field is one more way you can show, not tell. Every word you say and action you take sends a message. Take time to examine the message you're sending and determine whether it's about you or about your audience. If you're even a little bit unsure, ask someone you trust how it comes across.

What are some ways you've seen others effectively show their expertise?