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Finding the Words

I am often invited to speak on an array of topics—ranging from business topics such as networking, project management and operational efficiencies, to personal interests like whiskey and cigars.  Although I accept the invitations when possible, I do not consider myself an expert, but I do enjoy talking about my interests;  plus, I am lucky enough to enjoy public speaking.  I do not have any problems discussing the “what” and “why” of my assigned topic, but I often struggle to explain the “how” I do what I do, in a meaningful, clear way.  I think this is because the “how” is in part inherent to who I am and to my daily life – so much so that it eludes simple explanation.  In a way, it is no different than your work commute (if you have one) … how often do you find yourself arriving home with little recollection of the path you took to get there?


Expertise in any subject is a journey, marked by continual learning and refinement.  But it is not unusual for an expert to have difficulty articulating their knowledge to others. While there may be several reasons for this, one key factor is that much of an expert’s knowledge is tacit.  It is gained through trial, error, and learning which is not easily expressed in words.  Its knowledge born out of intuition, making it hard to articulate; it is for me anyway.  Consider the skills of an experienced athlete or performer like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Meryl Streep, or even Mick Jagger. They have practiced so much that their actions are instinctive.  They do not think about it, they just do it. This is great for them, but not so great for those of us who would like to learn from them!


It is also interesting to consider that sometimes knowledge complicates matters. Experts forget what it was like before they mastered their topic and may overlook the foundational concepts essential to share with novices.  In other words, they are so deep into their topics they cannot step back to simplify beginner concepts.


Despite these challenges, there are strategies to bridge the gap between experts and beginners. Taking time to reflect on the “how” you do what you do, breaking it down into simpler steps and using analogies to convey complex ideas are a few.  Engaging in conversations with folks at all levels of experience in your field is another effective way to practice and refine our explanations to fit our audiences. It is worth the work, to have a role in bringing the next generation of experts into your areas of interest. To share knowledge more effectively is not just about overcoming personal obstacles—it is an opportunity to enrich others, enabling them to learn, grow, and contribute. It requires patience, reflection, and a willingness to adapt. But the rewards—improved teaching, deeper understanding, and the dissemination of knowledge—are well worth the effort. I need to work on it!!!


So, as we continue to navigate our areas of expertise, let us remember the importance of clear communication and the impact it can have on ourselves and others.


“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes


Have you faced similar challenges in translating your expertise into words? Or do you have strategies that have worked for you in simplifying complex concepts for others? I’d love to hear about your experiences and tips. Share your stories in the comments below or reach out to me directly. Let us learn from each other and make the journey of sharing knowledge a little easier for everyone.


Connect, Share, Grow – Together, we can build a community of knowledge sharers. Looking forward to your insights!


Have a great weekend.