What does it take to be an “expert?” First and foremost, you must know your subject matter. You might have heard that you need to spend 10,000 hours on a certain subject to become an expert. That’s up for debate but it does reinforce that you must know a great deal about your topic just to start the process of becoming an expert. You may even need certification or degrees as well. But what does it take to be a “media expert” that media can call to interview? That is a whole different situation.

If you wonder about if you can cut it as a media expert ready to answer the tough questions, be composed and talk in short sound bites that capture the audience’s attention, then check out this list of the traits you may need to be an expert:

  • Confidence. You need to speak with authority and self-assuredness. To command authority doesn’t mean shouting or being aggressive. Just show confidence in what you are saying and bring a level of believability to your responses that resonate with the audience.
  • Mental agility. Can you think quickly of an answer for an uncomfortable question, improvise with a witty comment, keep your cool when the questioning gets mean or steer the interview back to your agenda? Practice with a trusted colleague or friend on your interviewing style. Get yourself accustomed to reacting quickly and mentally flexible under any media situation.
  • Interviewing or presentation skills. You need to have a relaxed and composed demeanor to handle media enquiries. Hire a media trainer if you are having trouble looking and feeling natural in front of a camera. Nervousness shows through during interviews.
  • Networking skills. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those you know are being interviewed by the media and ask how they became good at it. If you see a media contact, offer your card and get theirs as well. Stay in touch via email. Invite them to coffee and ask about what they need right now. If you can help, offer your experience. They will appreciate it and you will stay top-of-mind when you contact them again.

Being an expert means getting out there and making connections, practicing your skills and having the confidence to know you can do this. Stay committed to this journey and keep learning as much as you can. The road to being an expert isn't easy but is well worth if you stay the course.

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