Just Because Youre
an Expert . . . Doesnt Make
Remember, youre more interested in what you have to say than anyone else is.
IMAGINE THIS SCENARIO:
Today is the annual fundraising luncheon for the Easter Seals House in Charlotte, North Carolina. Easter Seals House is a school for children with irreversible and devastating birth defects. These are children in wheelchairs to whom many people only give a passing glance.
Youre seated elbow to elbow in a crowded banquet room with more than 400 guestsall A-list contributors to charitable organizations.
As the servers remove the desert plates, your tablemate tells you that although several speakers have already addressed the group, its the next speaker who always has the greatest impact. You turn your chair toward the stage and look forward to hearing the next presentation.
The emcee begins his introduction:
Ladies and gentleman, each year the Easter Seals committee selects a mother or father of one of our students to give a parents testimony. It is our belief that no one is better able to relate the importance and impact our school has on our children and our community than one of our parents.
This year, I have the privilege of introducing Mr. Richard Worrell, our committee chairman and proud father of Richard Jr., one of our special needs children. He and his wife, Alana, came to us over two years ago and became an important addition to the leadership of the Easter Seals School.
Please help me welcome Richard Worrell!
If you were Richard Worrell, how would you prepare for this talk? Would you write it out several days or weeks in advance and practice it looking into a mirror? Would you prepare a fancy PowerPointpresentation? Or would you simply stand up and speak from the heart, without notes?
How would you motivate people to really hear what
you think and feel so theyre inspired to listen and take action?
The truth is that every time we communicate, we are all Richard. What we say and how we say it determines whether or not people will choose to listen to us. Just because we care about something and think its important that doesnt mean other people will care about it and act on our advice.
How do we go about inspiring people to follow up on our advice and act on our recommendations?
If youve asked yourself this question, then this book is for you.
Making Experts Interesting
Lets give em something to talk about.
Bonnie Raitt, Singer-songwriter
For the past twenty years, Ive specialized in making experts more interesting and influential. Specifically, I focus on improving the expert/ novice conversation.
By expert, I mean highly educated professionals such as physicians, attorneys, financial planners, professors, architects, and psychologists.
By novice, I mean any individual seeking advice, treatment, or guidance from an expert or a group being influenced by an expert.
Expert/novice conversations might include a stockbroker talking to a client, a surgeon talking to a patient, a builder talking to a homeowner, a CEO talking to his or her team, a prosecutor talking to a jury, a keynoter talking to an audience, a professor talking to his students . . . you get the idea.
The step-by-step process presented in this book is based on thousands of hours I have spent helping experts in many fields become more interesting and influential talkerswhich subsequently helped them become more effective and prosperous leaders.
As mentioned in the introduction, many highly educated professionals become frustrated because theyre not able to get through to their novices. Despite their impressive inventory of skills, knowledge, and experience, their clients and patients often tune out an
d ignore their advice.
My mission is to change that.
Experts typically spend eight to twelve years in universities, devoting thousands of hours (and dollars) to studying, researching, testing, and interning to prepare for their careers. Yet, after investing all that sweat equity, Ive witnessed many experts fall into the following situations:
Run up huge personal debts establishing practices that dont flourish.
Be unable to pay back their parents, who have exhausted their life savings to pay for their childs higher education.
Suffer health challenges as cumulative stress takes its toll on their minds and bodies.
Watch their marriages and family relationships crash as a result of the long hours necessary to make ends meet in their demanding, high-overhead professions.
Retreat from the profession they chose when they realize their dreams arent coming true.
Witness all theyve worked for and sweated for going up in smoke.
Why do I care so deeply about this?
As I mentioned in the introduction, I was once that person, that professional, whose practice went up in smoke. My insurance company deemed my vision disability a pre-existing condition, so I was left without an income or career. I was forced to sell my professional building and practice and netted just enough to pay off my debts. It was a hard way to learn the truth of the adage, Money is just slightly less important than oxygen.
Those circumstances left me wondering, What experiences from the past twenty years have prepared and positioned me for my next twenty years so I can make a good living and have a meaningful life?
After a great deal of introspection and self-analysis, and after asking colleagues for their input, I realized Id learned how to successfully connect with people.
Practicing implant dentistryespecially early on, when that type of surgery and treatment was in its infancyforced me to learn ho
w to influence patients who had severe dental health breakdowns. Id learned how to talk with them, not at them, so they chose to act on my advice.
My ability to communicate and connect resulted in patients opting for treatment in spite of the fact that they:
Had little initial knowledge of the complexity of their dental conditions and the necessary procedures to correct them.
Felt brittle fear about the surgery and, at that time in the fairly new dental implant industry, the surgerys lengthy and sometimes painful post-operative side effects.
Owned little or no insurance coverage for procedures costing $10,000 and up.
Had no guarantees of outcomes.
To adequately address my patients fears and concerns, I had to develop a more effective set of communication skillsskills that enabled me to have a two-way relationship as opposed to delivering one-way advice.
As an expert who cared about my patients, I came to understand that it was my responsibility to connect with them. If my patients didnt understand what I was saying, and if they werent motivated to follow my advice, then I wasnt serving them.
Analyzing these experiences and then comparing them to those in other professions led me to discover that the necessary communication techniques, technical expertise, teamwork issues, and relationship challenges required to build and sustain a profitable dental implant practice rival any other professional services offering.
Later, I successfully applied and adapted what I learned about leading and influencing patients to other professional domainsfinancial services, law, healthcare, leadership, management, manufacturing, high technology, sales, and marketing. In each of these fields, I found that professionals fail to thrive not from incompetence but from not connecting with those they serve.
I have never met a professional who told me his or her formal education
prepared him or her to successfully communicate. Furthermore, as a professional working with thousands of other professionals, Ive never found a body of information delving deep into the mechanics and processes of how experts can effectively communicate their expertise to their clients, patients, and all those they seek to serve and influence.
Those of us attracted to the professionssciences, healthcare, financial services, engineering, etc.are not accepted into those respective, specialized schools based on our verbal skills. Nor are we recognized or rewarded for that skill set during the time of our education. Our grades, eventual graduation, and licensure are all built on our analytical and cognitive abilities. However, as we emerge from the cocoon of our academic silos, our verbal and people dexterities create the opportunities to apply our complex expertise.
Although I no longer practice dentistry and dental surgery, my practice now is helping others redeem all the work and sweat theyve plowed into their profession so that they may reap the rewards and freedom they have earned and deserve.
This work will provide the missing link between knowing your profession and successfully practicing it.
While teaching, coaching, and counseling, Ive achieved the highest-earned designation in professional speaking: CSPCertified Speaking Professional. Coming after I had logged thousands of hours in front of audiences, this certification includes my experiences inside boardrooms,...