The Expert Factor: To Be or Not To Be

After you watch Tom Kuhlmann create visuals in PowerPoint, you know you’re in the presence of an expert. This is not altogether surprising since Kuhlmann works for Articulate, has 20 years of experience creating visuals for training, and is author of the extremely popular Rapid E-learning Blog boasting a following of 93K e-learning developers. After witnessing his immediately apparent “tool fluency” at a recent workshop, did my own PowerPoint proficiency improve? Of course. Did Kuhlmann inspire us to work smarter and not harder? Absolutely. Did I learn practical shortcuts for creating visuals? Well, yes. But what struck me the most about this particular learning experience was the simple notion of well, . . . expertise.

Sure, you could argue expertise is a combination of experience, talent, knowledge depth, and/or good ole fashioned trial and error. I am not saying that these factors don’t play a role. In fact, one of the best technical troubleshooters I ever met encountered more technical glitches over his career than you or I could ever imagine. The reason he had developed such exemplary technical expertise, is because he had experienced all those technical challenges, and worked through them. So these factors can contribute to developing an expertise portfolio as well. However, there seems to be something else at play in Kuhlmann’s expert level.

Insatiable curiosity.

Kuhlmann has a natural appetite for figuring things out. He intentionally looks for inspiring visual images created by others in PowerPoint. This organic curiosity motivates him to try and de-construct quality images and figure out how they were created. Then he practices replicating them in PowerPoint and even improving their quality. He encourages others to do the same. Over the years, this drive to learn, practice, and create likely contribute to his uncanny ability to tell you how someone else created a quality PowerPoint visual, how to improve it, and most importantly, how to do it more efficiently.  His speed proficiency alone would put many of us to shame.

And at the end of the day . . . you can also tell he enjoys it.

Kuhlmann is passionate about helping people create quality, affordable e-learning with PowerPoint and Articulate tools regardless of whether they have a limited or abundant budget. And passion, as we know, is that priceless commodity that simply can’t be manufactured.

So what factors do you think contribute to expertise in a given discipline area . . . ?

What say you?

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