Presenting yourself in the media can be nerve-racking if you don’t do it often, whether you are talking to a reporter or publishing an article. This discomfort recently came into play when a client in the real estate industry gave us her take on trends and forecasts for 2015. We suggested that her predictions were newsworthy and could generate interview opportunities, but the client, who engaged our services to increase his visibility, quickly backed off. Her explanation? “I’m not an expert.” This is not an uncommon reaction.
According to the dictionary, you become an expert by “having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have been taught or what you have experienced.” It doesn’t say you must be the smartest person with the only good ideas. Our real estate client is extremely knowledgeable in her area of expertise, but believed she wasn’t the foremost expert. The fact is, you don’t need to know everything in order to express your viewpoint. Part of the secret is to develop confidence in presenting yourself. With that, people are much more likely to consider your viewpoint and accept you as a worthy commentator.
If you pay attention to those quoted as experts in interviews, especially those in your area of expertise, you see that most often their qualifications are no stronger than yours, and very frequently much less impressive; however, they believe in the worth of their opinions, and are eager to take advantage of the benefits of this expert positioning in order to forge ahead.
It’s important to recognize your own abilities, but also to confront your fears. Most often, the fear is 1) Someone will disagree with me, or 2) I might be wrong.
The “I’m not an expert” reasoning might stem from remembering mistakes we made in the past. Changing that perfectionistic approach is difficult; it’s engrained in most successful professionals either from fear-provoking situations or memories of cringe-worthy miscues that we made and others laughed at. The “I might be wrong” thought process comes not only from our understandable horror of embarrassment, but also from a misconception that in six months someone in your audience will care enough to check up on what you said. This rarely happens.
Getting past the fear of “I’m not an expert” allows you to claim your place in the spotlight as a knowledgeable and experienced professional so that your competition doesn’t claim it first.