How To Speak Up When You Aren’t The Expert

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how to speak up when you aren't the expert

How To Speak Up When You Aren’t The Expert

Not being an expert at work comes in several different forms. Maybe you are in a meeting and aren’t an expert in the subject matter, but still, have something to say. Or maybe you’ve just been assigned a new role and know a bit about what’s going on, but not fully just yet. 

Just because you don’t know something 100%, it doesn’t mean you can’t speak up

Your voice is still valuable as it signals you’re present and would like to participate.

In our LinkedIn Learning e-course, Speaking Up At Work, we emphasize the importance of knowing how and when to speak up at work.  In this course, you will learn strategies to help you feel more confident speaking up.

Below are 3 strategies:

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1. Listen

If you aren’t the expert, you’ll want to make sure you are actively listening before you speak.  It is always better to gather all of the information before you interject.

Practicing active listening will help you speak up with authority. Here are some tips to elevate your listening skills:

  • Listen To Understand – If you are leading a team and you aren’t sure what each person’s role entails, ask them.  When you listen to understand you are allowing your team to give you the necessary information. For example, one way you can listen to understand is by asking, What challenges do you typically face? Or, How can I support you to make your job easier?
  • Take Notes – One way to show you are actively listening is by taking notes.  If you are leading a large team, keeping notes to help you navigate when to best speak up can be helpful.  For example, referring to notes you’ve gathered over several meetings will clarify your message and give your message more authority as it is backed up with facts you’ve jotted down. how to speak up when you aren't the expert
  • Respond – Active listening requires a response. Paraphrasing what the speaker has said can show you were listening to them.  For example, you can say – I think what you said about the merger is XYZ. Another way to respond is by asking if your understanding is correct.  For example, you can say – I think what you are trying to say is the merger is going to require XYZ for our company, is this what you meant?  Paraphrasing and asking for clarity will help you speak up with authority when the time comes.

💡We recommend the e-course “Improving Your Listening Skills” to learn more about ways to improve your active listening skills.

As a team leader, you will have to speak up so it is important for you to listen and gather all of the information ahead of time.  Speaking up at work is imperative for career success visibility. 


2. Admit What You Don’t Know

You don’t have to know everything.  Your team and your co-workers are there so you don’t have to.  Admitting what you don’t know can help you fill in the gap and let your team or co-workers shine.  

  • Fill In The Gaps – When you approach your team, being transparent can go a long way.  Transparency can build trust between you and your team.  Admit to your team how certain inner workings aren’t familiar to you.  Ask them to help you fill in those gaps. The more gaps you can fill, the more knowledgeable you will be when it is time for you to speak up. 
  • Let Them Shine – Everyone should be praised for their hard work.  Great leaders aren’t afraid to let their teams shine. If you don’t know the answer, but know someone on your team team does – talk about them and their knowledge, or even ask them to speak up about it!  Speaking up on your team’s behalf is a great way to build morale and gain bonus points among your team. 

You don’t have to be the expert.  In fact, it is almost impossible for you to be the expert in every aspect of your company.  And that’s okay!  Knowing how to fill in the gaps will help you when you do need to speak up.  


3. Remember Your Value

how to speak up when you aren't the expertYou have value!  There is a reason you were put in a management position.  There is a reason you are working in your current position.  While you won’t always be the expert, this doesn’t mean you can’t speak up. Your observations, opinions, and conclusions about strategies, protocols, and workflow still matter.

There are a few ways you can help yourself if you are struggling to speak up:

  • Track Your Success – Have you recently, or in the past put together new strategies to help streamline the workflow? Did you land a new client? These are examples of successes.  As you write down all of your successes, you will start to see a pattern.  This pattern will help you to remember your value. And your value will give you the confidence you need to speak up. 
  • Your Experience – You may not be the expert, but this doesn’t mean you don’t have relevant experience to weigh in on the subject.  When you speak up, relate it back to what you have previously seen or worked on. That can help establish credibility. 
  • Be Confident – Confidence is key when it comes to speaking up!  Even if you aren’t the expert, you will want to be confident in your delivery.  Being a confident communicator is a skill you can learn.  In our e-course, The Art Of Communication, you will learn how to effectively communicate your ideas with confidence. 

Speaking Up At Work

Though speaking up when you aren’t the expert can be scary,  your experience has value. You just need to connect your past experience to your current role.  This will give your message more authority. Other strategies include gathering relevant information by listening and asking your team to fill in the gaps.  Remember to relate your experience to your message, and deliver it with confidence!


Do you want to learn how to speak up when you aren’t the expert? Join our private communications group and level up with our expert guidance.

Sign up for the Soulcast Media Membership today!

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