You have no excuses for not being an expert

<rant>

Powerpoint is a tool. Syringes and needles are tools. Hammers are tools.

Marketing is not a tool. Medicine is not a tool. Construction is not a tool. They are areas of expertise.

But marketers that insist on using Powerpoint and have presentations that do not work flawlessly are not experts. Doctors that insist on giving you an injection, but do it wrong, are not experts. Construction workers that insist on hammering away at things, but can’t do it right, aren’t experts.

You know why?

They put themselves in situations and choose tools that they don’t know how to use to the fullest extent.

The marketer or salesperson that pitches me on his product and keeps saying, “Sorry, I don’t know why GoToMeeting isn’t working,” when it is, but he doesn’t know how to work it, or, “Ooops, that slide wasn’t supposed to auto-forward,” isn’t doing a good job. He’s showing me he did not prepare, and even worse, every comment that is not focused on getting to know me better or positioning his product better for me works against him.

“Hey, Eric. How was that pitch from Hammeran Corp?” “Well, the dude couldn’t figure out how to call me on Skype so we got started 10 minutes late.” If you’re trying to sell me on something, don’t make you not knowing how to work Skype the first thing that I remember.

Many of us are willing to overlook little whoops moments. You hit the back button instead of forward. No big deal. Do that 10 times though, and we’ll remember; we might remember that over some important point you were trying to get across. The same goes for a 10 minute delay in starting the meeting because you didn’t know how to use Adobe Connect or whatever other problems might arise due to lack of preparation.

If our jobs require that we use a tool and we don’t bother to learn it properly or if we choose to use a tool and don’t bother to learn it properly, we need to admit that we can’t do it all ourselves. And, that is okay. We just can’t force it.

Doctors that deal well with patients and are good at diagnosing issues, but aren’t practiced in specific surgeries, refer out to other physicians when needed. Construction companies that focus on small projects refer out to other companies for large projects. And you know what?

We respect them for that.

Next time you have to give a Powerpoint presentation, maybe you should have your resident Powerpoint expert look it over before your meeting if you can’t guarantee yourself that it works perfectly. Next time you have to lead an online meeting, maybe you should have your IT folks there to guide you if you don’t know the technology frontward and backward.

Knowing what you can do well and what you can’t and knowing when to ask for help makes you look like an expert. Not doing so makes you look like an idiot.

</rant>

Note: We all see this everywhere – at our own companies, with salespeople that are pitching us, with family members, and so on. Don’t go jumping all over people if they make a few mistakes. If you care about them, guide them to a better solution for next time. We all make mistakes, but repeated mistakes with tools that we really should have mastered are not acceptable.

5 thoughts on “You have no excuses for not being an expert

  1. Pratum, remind me not to give a power point with you in the room, OK ;-) Nahh, just kidding man. I understand where you’re coming from. You’re promoting excellence and preparation, who can argue at all with that. Well said my friend, nice little rant. :-)

    Marcus

  2. Hey Eric,

    You’re absolutely right. We lose all our professional credibility, if we don’t know what we’re talking about or if we didn’t take the necessary time to learn how to work with the tools at our disposal.

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Susana*

  3. Thanks, Susana. Yeah, I mean, we really have to be patient with people that are trying, but seriously, how often do really effective salespeople, consultants, doctors, etc put themselves in situations where their very important messages could be undermined by their lack of knowledge of something like a tool? Rarely. Ineffective people though do that too often unfortunately.

  4. The PowerPoint problem (which I still see frequently) leads me to believe that someone threw something together and has never actually walked through it prior to the meeting. True or not, it tells me I’m not important enough to at least double check what you’re going to tell me.

    You make a great point about areas of expertise VS tools. They are not the same thing but any area of expertise has tools that you have to know in order to BE an expert. Great point that I wish others would realize.

    Love it!

  5. Thanks, David! You’re totally right about the feeling that something has just been thrown together. It’s definitely not what you want your audience thinking.

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