By Gregory Hartley and Maryann Karinch
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, an expert is “one with a special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject.” Frequent co-authors, Gregory Hartley, a decorated military interrogator, and Maryann Karinch, a public speaking expert, have taken the liberal view that “representing mastery” is tied less to in-depth knowledge or experience on a subject than to how well you read your audience and communicate a proficiency of the subject. As a consequence, the title sets an ambitious expectation that the book fails to meet.
How to Become an Expert claims that its “proven” methods will give the reader credibility and command of nearly any situation involving face-to-face communication, but the book has less to do with the gaining of expertise on a subject than with the dynamics of interacting with others on the subjects of your targeted research. In addition, I found the many references to military interrogation methods are somewhat distracting; they may validate Hartley’s interrogation credentials, but they would have been better balanced with more insight into Karinch’s public speaking experience.
The authors attempt to tie body language, research, and communications into a systematic approach to achieving expertise. The 246-page book consists of 10 chapters divided into three parts:
- “The Role of Human Nature” tries to define the role of experts and how we view them;
- “Planning and Preparation” gives a quick guide to reading body language, understanding your audience, and performing targeted research; and
- “Execution and Rescue” outlines a “tried-and-true” game plan of message delivery and knowing when to stop.
The authors recognize that readers, who follow the methods, will find themselves in situations that require a rescue plan. This is discussed in the final chapter.
While the book does an adequate job of explaining the importance of preparation and your audience, it falls short of charting a path to becoming “an expert on anything in just two hours.”