3 Signs You’re Stuck in the Expert Trap with Your Public Speaking with Carol Cox: Podcast Ep. 382

3 Signs You're Stuck in the Expert Trap with Your Public Speaking with Carol Cox: Podcast Ep. 382

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I know you want to grow your business and brand and have a bigger impact as a thought leader.

But, as high-achieving women, there are beliefs we have that get us stuck in the expert trap.

We believe that we need to teach/train to provide value; that training content is what our audience wants; and our identity is tied to seeing ourselves as the expert.

These beliefs are what can hold you back from thought leadership and the impact and income you want to make.

The problem is that your presentations and content are undifferentiated and lack emotional resonance.

In this episode, I share 3 signs you’re stuck in the expert trap and how to get out.

About Us: The Speaking Your Brand podcast is hosted by Carol Cox. At Speaking Your Brand, we help women entrepreneurs and professionals clarify their brand message and story, create their signature talks, and develop their thought leadership platforms. Our mission is to get more women in positions of influence and power because it’s through women’s stories, voices, and visibility that we challenge the status quo and change existing systems. Check out our coaching programs at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com

Links:

Show notes at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/382/ 

Book “Supercommunicators” by Charles Duhigg = https://www.amazon.com/Supercommunicators-Unlock-Secret-Language-Connection-ebook/dp/B0C5VBDC65/ 

Discover your Speaker Archetype by taking our free quiz at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/quiz/

Enroll in our Thought Leader Academy: https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/academy/ 

Connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolcox

Related Podcast Episodes:

382-SYB-Solo.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

382-SYB-Solo.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Carol Cox:
I’m sharing with you three signs you may be stuck in the Expert Trap and how to Get out. On this episode of the Speaking Your Brand podcast. More and more women are making an impact by starting businesses, running for office and speaking up for what matters. With my background as a TV political analyst, entrepreneur and speaker, I interview and coach purpose driven women to shape their brands, grow their companies, and become recognized as influencers in their field. This is speaking your brand, your place to learn how to persuasively communicate your message to your audience. Hi there and welcome to the Speaking Your Brand podcast. I’m your host, Carol Cox. I hope you’ve been enjoying the episodes we’ve been doing with our Thought Leader Academy clients and our in-person retreat clients. We’ve done two of those so far and we have two more coming up, so definitely stay tuned for those. I know if you’re listening to this podcast, you want to grow your business and your brand, and you want to have a bigger impact as a thought leader. But there are some beliefs that tend to get in the way of those of us who are high achieving women, and my hand is definitely raised there. First, we believe that we need to teach and train to provide value to our audiences. We believe that training content is what our audience wants from us, and our identity is tied to seeing ourselves as the expert.

Carol Cox:
We’ve gotten a lot of validation and praise for being the expert, and as I always say, you absolutely should be the expert in your business with the clients that you work with. Because after all, that’s why they’re hiring you to be the expert. But if you want to step into thought leadership, we have to get out of what I’ve called the expert trap. The problem with the expert trap is that your presentations and your content and your content, I mean social media posts, email newsletters, writing that you do in your blogs, even podcast interviews where that you’re guesting on your presentations and content are undifferentiated and they’re interchangeable with all the other experts out there. Also, your presentations and content, if you’re stuck in the expert trap, lack emotional resonance, and without emotional resonance, without that connective tissue of emotions and stories, you’re not going to be able to connect with your audiences and your audiences with you. So I’m going to go through in this episode today, three signs that you’re stuck in the expert trap and how to get out of it, including some examples from myself and some of our clients. If you would like to shift from being an expert presenter to a thought leader, that is the journey that you go on with us when we work with you.

Carol Cox:
In our Thought Leader Academy, we spend eight weeks together working both one on one and in a small group of women, so it’s limited to eight women. You get plenty of hands on time for coaching, feedback, support, accountability, and community. Our next start date is coming up in April, so pretty soon! If you’re interested in joining us, you can get all the details, including pricing and speaking your brand.com/academy. Again, that’s speaking your brand.com/academy. And once you’re there, you can schedule a zoom call with us so that we can answer all the questions that you have and make sure that our thought leader Academy is the best fit for you. Now let’s get on with the show. I’ve been speaking for all of my career, from debate team in high school to Model United Nations in college, to presenting at tech conferences. When I had my technology businesses many years ago, and for a long time I kept a professional distance in my talks. And you know what? They went great. The feedback I received from the audiences and the event organizers was always positive. Things like, I learned so much, can’t wait to try these strategies and there’s so much valuable content you gave us. I wish this session was longer, and this is the kind of feedback we want to hear right in the beginning of our speaking careers.

Carol Cox:
When we’re developing our expertise in our topics, delivering presentations like these can be helpful for validating our knowledge and building our confidence. But this kind of feedback isn’t going to get you to the keynote or the Ted stage, and it’s not going to get you the leads that you want. And it’s not going to have the bigger impact that I know you want to make. Around the same time as I was receiving all of this great feedback from my presentations, which were really trainings, I attended a conference and I was in awe of the keynote speaker. She was confident, smart, funny, engaging, and I wondered how she had gotten the opportunity to be on that stage. After all, she wasn’t a celebrity or someone with a fancy title, which was a relief since I didn’t have those things either. After she was done, I didn’t think to myself that was so much valuable content she delivered. That was a great training. Instead, I thought, wow, I feel this. She gets me and I believe I can achieve this too. Now, how does she do that? And how do other great speakers do that? After analyzing many, many, many speeches, and this is what I count as a hobby and working with hundreds of women, I’ve identified these four layers that separate the great content talks from the life changing talks.

Carol Cox:
First, the foundation layer is your expertise because after all, that is related to the topic that you’re talking about. The second layer is your big idea. So what’s that perspective? What’s that angle that you have on your topic? What’s that bigger vision that you have? The third layer is your personal journey, your personal story that got you interested in this big idea in the first place and shaped who you are. And then layer four is the emotional courage to dig deep, to be vulnerable, and to truly share how these things have shaped you. All those presentations and trainings I used to give, they certainly were based on my expertise, and they maybe had a bit of an interesting idea. What they lacked was any meaningful personal stories, which meant I didn’t have to have any emotional courage. Nothing was required from me. And then I got to the point in my life and career when I was bored and unfulfilled, staying at that first layer of my expertise. When I finally got the courage to dig deep into my personal stories and identify my big idea, the difference was extraordinary. This is the feedback that I started getting things like, thank you for teaching us to say the hard thing, to dig deep and do the hard work. Thank you for being brave and for stepping up to use your voice.

Carol Cox:
Thank you for being who you are and the lives of all the women you’re touching and challenging to stand up, speak up and be seen. Now, I don’t know about you, but that kind of feedback, like I feel that in my heart and I feel that in my body. And that’s the kind of feedback I want you to get, because that’s how you truly transform your audiences. So here are three signs that you may be stuck in the expert trap with your presentations and talks, and then how you can start shifting that. So the first sign is that you’re teaching your audiences how to do what you do, instead of showing them what they need to know to achieve their goals. This would be like me teaching you how to be a speaking coach or run a speaking business. Now, I could certainly shift my business and I could train other people to be speaking coaches, or I could become a business coach and teach other people how to run a speaking business. But that’s not what I’m doing. So when I present to my audiences, I’m not I’m not teaching them how to be a coach or run a business. And I’m not actually really even teaching them the fundamentals of public speaking. Instead, I’m getting them to think differently about their public speaking. I’m getting them to think differently about their identity as a speaker, getting them to understand that, to be a thought leader, that you have to step out of this expert trap, that you have to be willing to ask big questions and not have all the answers that you have to be willing to put yourself in the shoes of the audience.

Carol Cox:
So if you’re a web designer, don’t teach your audiences web design. Instead, show them what is possible when they truly understand their potential clients, and then their website does that when their website speaks their client’s language. If you’re a coach, you don’t teach them kind of your coaching process and and all the different things that you do as a coach. Instead, show your audiences what’s getting in their way. This is why our signature talk Canvas framework works so well. No matter what your topic and what your industry, no matter if you think you have a very technical topic or a very non-technical topic, it’s agnostic to topic and industry because we take the very best of three act story structure of psychology of marketing, and we infuse all of that into the framework. And then as we work with you one on one in that virtual VIP day, we’re getting the information from you and putting it in the right sections of the talk so that it flows and that you are then instead of teaching your audiences what you do, you’re showing them what they need to know to achieve their goals.

Carol Cox:
One of the best examples of this is the episode that I did last December, episode number 362, with one of our clients, Danielle Hayden. She owns a bookkeeping agency, and she does extraordinary work with the clients that she works with, and she has a team of 25 bookkeepers, but she has a very different approach to bookkeeping. And that was getting lost in the presentations that she was doing for lead generation. So when we work together in the VIP day, instead, we shaped her talk around thought leadership around what the women entrepreneurs that she was speaking to, what they needed to know to achieve their goals, what was, what was preventing them from doing that instead of Danielle teaching them about bookkeeping, which is what the entrepreneurs really didn’t need to understand, they said they needed to hire Danielle’s company for the bookkeeping, but they needed to understand what was getting in their way. So in that episode, 362, Danielle and I talk about that and the revelation that she had about thought leadership and how when she presented this new version of her talk, she got the most leads that she ever had. Let’s hear a clip from my podcast conversation with Danielle Hayden of Kickstart Accounting.

Danielle Hayden:
I want to use the word fun and and I don’t want anyone to laugh at me as I use the word fun here, but it really was fun to work with you and watch you pull out those pieces from what we were talking about because like, how can I serve everyone, right? So if somebody is doing DIY bookkeeping, how do I help them? If somebody is struggling with money mindset, how do I help them if somebody is is uh, has, you know, they’re struggling, they want to, um, you know, they’re not getting what they deserve from their money team, from their their CPA, from their bookkeeper. How do I help them? And in working together, I loved how you narrowed that down to very specifically, who are we talking to? Why are we talking to them? And what does that person what does that woman what does that person need to leave with?

Carol Cox:
Yes. And then and as we were, I was as I was asking you question and getting to know a little bit more about your methodology and the process that you use internally and who are your best clients. And then you mentioned to me about this idea of the spending gap and how so many entrepreneurs actually don’t spend enough, or at least spend enough in the right places in their business. And when you said that I had this like little. Ding ding ding light bulb go on. Because this is what I’m listening for as I, as I’m working with, with clients like you is like, what is that thing that I think most people haven’t heard much about yet? It feels counterintuitive, like it feels unusual to hear that. And I feel like that’s what gets the audience to then pay attention. So, Danielle, for the benefit of our listeners, can you explain what is the spending gap?

Danielle Hayden:
Yeah, this was incredible. And I’m so glad that you picked this up, because I feel like I have been talking around this concept for so long, but never actually understood what I was even talking about. So thank you for pulling that out of me.

Carol Cox:
And then the other thing is that I really encourage you to share more stories in your talk, specifically stories about you, not just about clients. Clients stories are really important because of course there’s such credibility markers. Plus then the people in the audience see themselves in those clients. But I also encourage you to share some stories about you. How did you feel about that?

Danielle Hayden:
Well, when I first, um, did my dry run, I had recorded a dry run for you and I had sent it over and I my comments and my email literally was, I don’t know, Carol. These these these stories feel off. I don’t think that I’m making the point that I should be making here. I think that that story doesn’t feel right. And you had commented back, you know, you’re probably just not used to telling this much story in a, in, in, in a speech. And when I gave that talk the first time in person, it’s those stories that really connected, um, not just connected me with to the audience, but they were the moments of almost relief. Yeah. Remember, like, money is a hard topic to talk about and it’s a hard topic for people to sit through. So having those stories and giving the audience a moment to laugh or connect or to really see themselves in that situation, I just walked away from such a deeper connection with with the audience, and.

Carol Cox:
That was pretty powerful. Right? So that’s sign number one that you’re stuck in. The expert trap is you’re teaching your audiences how to do what you do instead of showing them what they need to know to achieve their goals and what’s getting in their way. Sign number two that you’re stuck in the expert trap is that you don’t have any personal stories in your presentations and talks, or the personal stories are kind of superficial. They’re not meaningful. They’re not vulnerable. Your presentations and talks need connective tissue between point to point. Your stories are that connective tissue. Your openness allows your audience to be open. Now, you may be in a setting where there’s 500 people or a thousand people or even 150 people in your audience, and you’re not going to have them actually share stories out loud. I mean, you could it depends on the setting, but instead your vulnerability by sharing those personal stories, those those stories that have really impacted you and shaped you and shaped the ideas that matter to you, that openness, that vulnerability is going to open up your audience’s minds and hearts. And when your audience’s minds and hearts are open, they’re much more able to receive the information, the content, that thought leadership message, the bigger vision that you’re presenting to them. And then they start thinking to themselves about stories and experiences that they’ve had, the journey that they’ve been on, and now how you could be the person who can help them go further.

Carol Cox:
So that’s excellent for lead generation as well. And oftentimes, again, as that’s high achieving women, we feel like, well, our personal stories are going to get in the way. Like I want to present because I want to get clients from my talks, which is an excellent way. Public speaking is an excellent way to generate leads, but your personal stories are what going to connect you to your audience, and they’re going to be more likely to want to work with you because they learned something about you, because you’ve had you’ve shown them that openness and vulnerability, and it truly is contagious to them as well. Another great example is from another client, Terry DeLuca. This was back from last summer. So last summer 2023 episode 338. And she was very much in the expert trap before we worked together. Because she has a background in academia, she actually has two PhDs, and now she’s a sought after speaker and a paid speaker because of working with us and the shift that she has made into thought leadership. Let’s listen to this clip from my podcast conversation with Doctor Terry DeLuca.

Dr. Terry DeLuca:
As you mentioned, I got my, um, my graduate work was all in the academia side. So I have a dual PhD in developmental psychology and educational psychology, and all my work was focused on research. So that’s where a lot of my original speaking experiences were presenting my data. I was principal investigator on a lot of studies. I held a research scientist position for a children’s literacy program, so I would travel and speak at conferences. And it was exactly what you say with the expert travel. It was very comfortable. You could walk on stage. I have my you know exactly how the presentation is going to go. If it really capturing introduction, you present the facts. Here’s the applied aspect of the research. Everyone go off and have a great day. That’s that’s really the sum of an academic presentation. And I was very comfortable with that. I think something that I’ve talked with you about is embracing that thought leadership. It took me out of that protective little, I don’t know, the protective zone of being an expert leader walking in. You have to just embrace sharing your personal stories. And so I think that’s how we’ve been able to get to the heart of our clients. We’ve had, you know, just just sharing these are some thoughts and feelings, some insecurities, some anxieties, things that we’ve struggled with in your shoes.

Dr. Terry DeLuca:
When I was sitting at the desk leading a school or as you know, as a teacher in a classroom, I had imposter syndrome. I wanted to quit my job because it felt too overwhelming. I didn’t know how to handle the chaos in the classroom. I worried what other people were thinking. Do they think I’m a good leader? Should I be in this seat? So sharing all of that, that stuff, that’s nice. It’s nice to keep that tucked down deep and not let that out into the world. Right. So it takes it takes that extra dose of courage and getting over that fear of failure. At least for me, that’s what it took. And so it’s definitely a very different approach to talking to an audience. But when you’re able to humble yourself and just open up and share the things that you’ve struggled the most with, at least for me, the things that were the deepest struggles, my deepest fears, getting that out there, it just it’s almost like the elephant in the room is removed. Your audience can relate to you and they think, wow, she gets it like she understands. And then they at that point is when the beauty happens, that’s when they’ll open their mind.

Carol Cox:
So that’s sign number two that you’re stuck in the expert trap. You don’t have any meaningful personal stories, any vulnerable personal stories in your talks. If you listen to the last episode that we did with our Thought Leader Academy clients, it was so much fun. We had we did a LinkedIn live show where we brought three of them on, and they each presented a ten minute section of the signature talk they had worked on with us in the Thought Leader Academy, and we had a round table discussion at the end. And for each of them, one of the biggest revelations of working with us is how important personal stories are, especially those vulnerable personal stories and how it was. They were a little reluctant to put them in their talks. They, you know, they had that the fears, the vulnerability, hangovers. But they realized, especially after presenting it on that live show last week for the first time, how incredibly important it is. Sign number three that you’re stuck in the expert trap is that as a speaker, when you’re presenting in front of your audience, this is especially for in-person engagements, but it also applies virtually, is that you’re not matching the energy and the mood of the audience. As I’ve said on this podcast before, as the speaker, if you’re standing in front of a room, if you’re standing on the stage or you’re the one who is the the presenter on that zoom call or that webinar, you are the leader in that room.

Carol Cox:
You are the leader in that audience. If something is going on, either out in the world or perhaps just within that conference or something’s happened within that industry, it is up to you as the speaker, as the leader to address that and to match the energy and mood of the audience. If you show up and you’re super high energy and bubbly and you just want to be playful and have fun, but something has happened. Something has happened in the world. Or again, like at that conference, and you you’re aware of that and you can sense the energy of the audience like they’re maybe they’re introspective, they’re reflective, like they’re feeling what has been going on, and you just bounce up and you don’t address it at all. There’s going to be that disconnect, like it’s going to feel incongruent to the audience. Now, I’m not saying you have to change your entire presentation just because something else has gone on, but I really do feel like it. It’s up to you to and this is how you develop as a speaker, and this is how you know you’re getting better and better as a speaker is being able to do this very authentically and seamlessly with your audience. And the flip side, if your audience is really energetic, maybe they just had a great session where they were working on something together and like the mood is really energetic and, and, you know, they’re having a great time and then you’re ready to start.

Carol Cox:
And you know that the story you start with is kind of it’s like a hard story, right? It’s one of those personal, vulnerable stories that we encourage you to share. But maybe starting with that story is not the best thing to do, because it’s good to bring the energy and mood of the audience down right away, when maybe you need to save that story for a little bit later in your presentation, so that you can continue to match the energy and mood of the audience. Yes, these are advanced speaking techniques, but this is what I want you to get to. Because this is how you’re going to get to those paid keynote talks. And again, getting more leads and clients from the lead generation presentations that you’re doing right now. I’m reading a really good book called Super Communicators by Charles Duhigg. It just came out. I’ll include a link in the show notes, and he has a whole section, a whole chapter in his book about this idea of matching energy and mood. And in this case of the book, they’re talking mainly about one on one conversations you’re having with other people. But I’m applying it to you as a speaker in front of a room full of people in front of an entire audience. So sign number three that you’re stuck in the expert trap is that you’re not matching the energy and mood of the audience, and you’re not bringing the audience along that journey and kind of either lifting their mood or addressing their mood as needed.

Carol Cox:
So again, why does any of this matter? What if you just want to get leads and clients from your presentations? Or you’re thinking, I just want to get paid some money for my presentations? And here’s the thing if your presentations are boring or flat, or just like everyone else’s, they’re not going to get you the results that you want. They’re not going to get you the leads and clients. They’re not going to get you those paid speaking opportunities. They’re not going to get you to those bigger stages. So really think about developing your big idea. I did a podcast episode about that late last year that I’ll include a link in the show notes, add those personal, meaningful, vulnerable stories into your content and be a leader in that room. Match the energy and mood of the audience and take them along that journey. This is exactly the work that we do with you in our Thought Leader Academy. It truly is transformative as we see our clients develop over the eight weeks that we work together. We help you develop your thought leadership message like find that big idea, develop your framework, which is your intellectual property, which you can use not only in your presentations and talks, but in so much of your other content.

Carol Cox:
And a lot of times it provides the foundation for, say, a book that you want to write. We also teach you how to tell great stories and to connect your stories to your bigger message. We work with you one on one in that virtual VIP day to create your signature talk, so you are guaranteed to have a signature talk done that you love, and that’s going to push you a little bit out of your comfort zone, because that’s exactly what’s going to give you the bigger impact and income that you want. You also learn the business of speaking what to charge for your speaking, how to develop your speaking proposals, how to find the best events for you. And then you have practice time. So you get to practice with us in the group zoom calls. And then we also schedule that LinkedIn live for you towards the end of the program, so that you can take a section of your signature talk and deliver it live to our audiences. I know that may sound a little scary, but it’s so much fun. And if you listen or watch the one that we did last week, as well as the one that’s coming up, you’re going to see how great the women did. And here’s the best part about working with us in our Thought Leader Academy.

Carol Cox:
Your transformative talk transforms you as much as it does your audience. You develop as a person, you develop as a speaker, you develop as a leader. And that’s why I truly get so much value out of the woman that we work with on our Thought Leader Academy. We’ve been running the Thought Leader Academy since the fall of 2020, so it’s been almost three and a half years now. We have graduated well over 100 women from the Thought Leader Academy. We work with women from all different industries, all different topics. Because again, our framework is not specific to one type of topic, whether it’s technical or non-technical or if it’s story driven or if it’s more content driven. It all works. If you’re ready to get out of this expert trap and shift into thought leadership, I invite you to join our next group that starts in April. You can get all the details, including pricing and FAQs and testimonials from the women that we’ve worked with and speaking your brand.com/academy. Again, that’s speaking your brand.com/academy. And once you’re there you can fill out the application form. And you can also schedule a zoom call with us. Don’t forget our next episodes. You’re going to be hearing from more of our thought leader Academy grads and our in-person retreat clients, so that they can share some of the insights that they’ve gained to help you with your speaking and thought leadership. Until next time, thanks for listening.

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