I have spent some time the last couple of weeks working on next year’s Academy of Insurance webinar schedule. No. It’s not online yet but look for it to start appearing soon. That made me think about something that I’ve mentioned before, but it bears repeating.

The insurance world needs your help, specifically your voice.

Here’s the thing: I’m not an expert in everything. I understand your shock and dismay. I have felt that way before, too. It’s true though. There are things that I don’t know. Of course, I can opine on a variety of topics, but that doesn’t necessarily make me expert enough to present an hour webinar on every topic.

My wife would tell you that I can talk for an hour on just about any topic, but she’s just being kind to me.

That’s why I’m reaching out to you, the Insurance Journal reader. To be specific, you who read the Academy Journal blog. You’re an expert in something and we want to hear from you.

Maybe you aren’t sure. That’s ok. Let me tell you more about what we’re looking for and you can make up your mind whether you want to reach out to us or not.

You should be an expert.

An expert doesn’t necessarily have letters behind her name. Although the letters do lend you gravitas and we all need more gravitas. Seriously, the designations are great and I’m a designation fan (5 done and 2 in the works…), but just because you’ve done the programs doesn’t mean that you are an expert like we need you to be.

The expert that we’re looking for has an understanding on a specific topic. You could be an expert in CGL coverages. You could be an expert in D&O exclusions. You could be an expert in the greatest certificate of insurance sins against humanity.

What makes an expert?

An expert is someone with a demonstrably high level of understanding of specific topics. It isn’t necessarily a certain number of years that makes a person an expert. I’ve met folks that have been in this business for all of their adult lives and they are no more experts than my dog is. That leads me to the next thought.

You should be passionate.

Please don’t be that boring instructor that puts everyone, including themselves, to sleep. We need people who get excited about the topics that they are presenting about. It’s not just that you enjoy talking about this stuff, but sometimes you just can’t help yourself.

My wife and I were watching a movie recently about a bookstore. The proprietors didn’t own the building they were in, so they didn’t insure it. There was a big storm and a tree crashed through the roof, damaging the building and all of the stuff inside. The crux of the story was that the building owner’s insurance didn’t cover the damage from the tree and without an influx of money to repair the building, the store would never reopen. This made everyone sad.

The problem is that even if the damage to the roof wasn’t covered, the bookstore should have had coverage for damage to their business personal property (including stock) and coverage for business income and extra expense. So, there shouldn’t have been a crisis. There should have just been checks cut to get the bookstore back up and running in a temporary location at least. To make matters worse, I had to stop the movie to explain the issues to my wife. She loves me and that’s why she laughed at me for having to stop the movie and tell her about what was in my head. That’s the passion we’re looking for. If you can’t help but think insurance thoughts, you might be just the person that we’re looking for.

You should be comfortable speaking to a group (even a group you can’t see).

For those who hate to get up in front of a group of people to speak, you might be able to handle this. Speaking online takes a different set of skills than speaking in front of a group. You are the only one speaking. You can’t see anyone. That means that it’s your voice, your content, and your presentation that will hold the attention of the group (or not).

You must be able to speak clearly and with high energy for at least 45 minutes. If you can fill 45 minutes, you’re right in the sweet spot. That gives people plenty of content and opportunity to ask you questions and interact with you. I mention high energy. That means that your voice must help to make your content interesting for the audience. If you have great stuff, but you speak in a monotone, you’ll lose everyone.

You need to understand a few things about creating presentations for an online audience. If you’re speaking for 45 minutes, you will need those slides to do something often. It could be pictures or words that appear, new slides, or something else the keep people looking at your content. Please, for all of our sakes, don’t put everything you plan to say on the slides. That just hurts everyone.

Why not try and teach something? We always need new voices. Interested? Reach out to me. I’d be glad to talk with you.

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