“An expert is a person who has found out by painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field.” Neils Bohr
If you are like most people, it can be hard to prove and say to the world that you have authority in a specific field or industry. People usually don't do this out of fear of bragging about themselves or sounding insufferably self-absorbed. Alternatively, maybe you struggle to find the right platform and mediums to showcase your speciality. If you can relate to any of the previous, congratulations, this article will hopefully solve all your expertise woes!
By the end of this article, I'll give you the tools necessary to talk about yourself assertively, help others in the process and feel confident to share your expertise with others while podcasting.
Stephen Colbert’s Advice
I have a podcast called “Master of Some”. The name is a play on the age-old saying “Jack of all trades, master of none“. Do you see what I did with that cute flip? The reason why I started this podcast is that I believe anyone can be a master or an expert in a few things over the course of their lifetime.
Back in 2006, the comedic tv show host and Master of Some, Stephen Colbert, wrote a satirical article for Wired Magazine, where he outlined how to “Be An Expert In Anything”. Some of the best parts that apply to podcasters are;
- Pick a field that can't be verified
- Choose a subject that's actually secret
- Get your own entry into an encyclopedia/Wikipedia
- Use the word zeitgeist as often as possible
- Be sure to use lots of abbreviations and acronyms
- Speak from the balls, not the diaphragm (his words, not ours!)
This article is a big joke, but there are some great insights past the lulz that could help your podcasting career. Basically, Stephen Colbert is outlining the characteristics of what experts do.
All jokes aside, this post will be made up of 3 sections to make yourself an expert in your field by using podcasts. They are;
- Definition & The Expertise Gap
- Value through Branding, Groups and Pillars
- Using Your Mastery In The Real World
Definition & The Expertise Gap
“Even a second grader looks like an expert to a first grader.” – Unknown
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A lot of people define an expert differently. Some think you need to have a PHD or be a teacher. Others think you have to have done something “successfully” (a subjective word) for 10,000 hours and make a lot of money.
The Oxford language dictionary defines the noun “expert” as, “A person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area.” Well, that's pretty vague and not as specific as what some people think an expert is. Hence, we already have stable support for someone unsure about proving their prowess.
I have a simple way to determine what an expert is — Round up the closest 100 people you have access to on any given day. Then see how many people know more than you about your industry or field of work. I'm sure if you ran it ten different ways, you would find that maybe 1-10 people know more than you. I'm also sure if you are reading this, at a minimum, you have been doing whatever you do for a few years, so you have a level of experience and wisdom to backup your new label as an expert.
If you are trying to convey information, teach, consult, or coach – figure out what you know (the expert) vs what the person that doesn't know, knows (the beginner). What lies between that is the expertise gap.
Next, you want to define your field. Broad is okay when you start, but the more niche and specific, the better. When you are broad, you compete with many others, so being an expert in a small niche field makes you the expert by a long shot.
[Say this in an American English accent] “In Niches are Riches” [/End American Accent]. More on this later.
Value through Branding, Groups and Pillars
How do you add value to your podcast or a podcast you will be on?
I highly recommend you brand yourself as soon as possible. It's okay to pivot and change as you figure things out, but the sooner you make your own label, the better.
Stephen Colbert was right about the whole “Pick a subject that's a secret”, because again, the fewer people that know, the more you have leverage on them.
Earlier I touched on niche vs broad. The difference is where your branding comes into play and can separate you from the masses if you do something or even multiple things that no one else can do.
A personal example from my own brand and podcast – “I create health and fitness audio stories to help driven people live with purpose.”
Someone might do just health and fitness better than me. Someone else might do only audio and storytelling better than me. But not too many people can do health/fitness/wellness and audio/storytelling as well as me. The intersection makes me an expert by default because I now don't have as much competition.
You create value for a listener by authentically talking about things that interest you. Sometimes what interests you doesn't interest others (or they aren't searching for that). That's fine. Look to find a mixture of what people are searching for/asking questions about and what you find exciting and bridge them.
If you have a podcast, think about the publishing order of your episodes early on to cover “main pillars”. Pillars are a comprehensive range of ideas, frameworks and areas of your industry. These are useful so that if someone were to look at just the episode titles, they would have a better understanding of what topics to consume.
The last way to give value is to group ideas and labels from when you begin speaking on your subject. This allows whoever is listening to your podcast episode to quickly assess what you are saying and figure out if it is of use to them. Unfortunately for the self-conscious, this may seem like “bragging about yourself”. Don't worry; it's not.
Using Your Mastery In The Real World
I've defined what an expert is and how to create value through your branding. The last and most important step is how to use this in the real world.
Use what I'll call the Edge Method. In its simplest form the Edge Method has three parts; Explain, demonstrate and guide.
With a podcast, it isn't easy to guide people so you need to tell people how they can use what you are saying in a real-world example. The example should be about yourself and might even sound like bragging.
Side Note – Please get used to “bragging about yourself” but know it's not bragging. It's sharing information. The fine line between bragging and sharing information with someone is: Bragging = Serving only yourself, Sharing Information = Creating value and helping them. You have to sell and market yourself. There are no ways around that. But why and how you do it is determines whether it comes off as authentic or unbearable.
If that's weird, know that it will get easier. If you are still weirded out by bragging about yourself, do the below exercise (It's a bit woo-woo but it has a high success rate in my small circle of friends).
- Reframe bragging to “creating value for someone searching for something”. That's all it is.
- Build a list of everything that you do well. Think over a year. You do all sorts of things, right? Build a list of all the things you're good at and look over it weekly (daily for the super insecure)
- Back to Grouping & Pillars from earlier – Group the items that you do well together and create pillars. We'll call them “labels”. Make anywhere from 2-4 pillars. Now, when someone asks, “what do you do exactly?” you can pull from those pillars and sub-labels. This allows you to speak off the cuff, naturally to give people what they want to hear.
You can do this anywhere; your podcast, your blog, other people's podcast, meetings, random meet-ups at events (when those happen again post covid-19), and more.
The last way to make yourself look like an expert to others with your podcast is to get experts onto your podcast. Alternatively, if you can't reach them get quotes from them that you’ve found on the internet. These people most likely have higher visibility than you, so this immediately puts you on the same level as famous experts, giving you immediate credibility.
Stephen Colbert Was Right
Stephen Colbert's last words on how to be an expert in the article were, “Be Famous. It Helps”. Comedy is only funny when the joke has some truth. You most likely aren't famous and probably don't want to be. If we replace the word “famous” with “remarkable”, you then become trustworthy.
Practice as much as you can and be a resourceful and knowledgeable person. Consistently give value to others, and over time, people will start calling you an expert. You then don't have to brag about yourself anymore.
And if all else fails, follow a bit more of Stephen’s advice – “Name drop, make things up and remember – Real experts don't have time for extra syllables.”
Next Steps to Becoming an Expert in Your Field
Don't go it alone! Building a support network around your work will give you a massive advantage as you strive to become the go-to expert on your topic or niche.
Join us in The Podcast Host Academy where you'll have access to all our courses, tools, downloadable resources, and weekly live Q&A sessions. This can really help you to stay accountable, motivated, and on-track. We'd love to work with you in there!