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“Learn step-by-step how gaining credentials and experience as a public speaker will help to give you a reputation as the smartest person in the room”.

By: John D. Gaskell, author of

           How to become the “SMARTEST PERSON” in the Room.

You are what you are perceived to be. Let me show you how to become a MARKETING genius.

Gaining Credentials (Part 6 of a multi-part article)

Initially, my “resume” included membership in various industry organizations. My next goal was to become a board member of RISPE. I asked the local president if there were any committee openings; there are always openings. I chose to become Publications Committee Chairman, which qualified me to attend monthly board meetings, meet the leaders, and be seen and known. Soon, I met the Nominating Committee Chairmen. After our friendship was cemented, I expressed interest in being on the board, and I became Treasurer the following year (most nominees run unopposed). That put me on the “ladder,” and I became RISPE President in four years. Gaining credentials is not as hard as it might first appear. After my presidency, I nominated one of the recent Past Presidents for the “Engineer of the Year Award”; not surprisingly, in a few years, he nominated me.

I don’t mean to imply that all this was easy; it took a lot of hard work. But, with determination and effort, you can be gaining credentials that will eventually distinguish you from your competitors. The important lesson here is: “It doesn’t just happen—you make it happen.”

Public Speaking Experience

Most professionals and leaders in business attend gatherings where their credentials are reveled. As a consulting engineer, I frequently attend “interview meetings,” where Building Committees select architects and engineers for their projects. I have watched many of my colleagues talk about their college degree, and then all that they had was a list of past projects. In addition, I could refer to the following:

I am a past President of the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers, the founding President of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Illuminating Engineering Society, past Director of the Electrical League of Rhode Island, and Chairman of the Electrical Code Sub-Committee of the Rhode Island Building Code Standards Committee.

I have written numerous articles for national technical publications and have been a guest speaker at the National Conference on Harmonics and Power Quality in Philadelphia.

I was honored by being selected “Engineer of the Year” by the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers and “Man of the Year” by the Electrical League of Rhode Island.

I am particularly proud of being a recipient of the Providence Engineering Society’s “Freeman Award.” This award was established for recognizing major achievements in engineering.

I wasn’t bragging; I was applying for a job.

If you want to be successful, don’t be afraid to build yourself up. Fortunately, your work as an officer of professional organizations will give you many opportunities to hone your skills as a public speaker. You will appreciate this because you will be required to speak before both small and large groups throughout your career.

On my first or second year in practice, I was hired to do a “light emissions” study. This was in conjunction with an environmental impact study relating to the proposed expansion of a local airport. I don’t know if I was chosen because my resume included “Member of IES” or because I was too new to properly quote a fee for such an unusual project. In any case, I visited the airport at night, under varying weather conditions, and (with a light meter) measured the light produced from the approach lights. My final conclusion was that the amount of light was less than the light emitted by a “full moon” and, therefore, had no significant impact on the environment. I submitted my report to the environmental firm that had hired me, and it was accepted.

After about 6 months, the environmental firm called me and asked me to attend a public hearing at the City Hall to answer questions, if any. I reread my report, and, with a copy, I sat down in front with the other members of our team. The remaining 500 seats were occupied by very angry neighbors, with many more standing around the perimeter of the room. The head of the environmental firm was called to the podium and, after a few introductory remarks, said: “And now I would like to call our electrical engineer, Jack Gaskell, to the podium to present the light emissions portion of our report.” I considered running for the door, but I didn’t think I could make it down the center aisle.

I rose with wobbly legs and walked to the podium with my report in hand. When the heckling from the crowd quieted down a bit, I said: “I have to start out by apologizing; it was my understanding that I was here to answer questions (if any) and, therefore, did not prepare a presentation. But I have a copy of my report and will paraphrase it for you.” I opened my report and stumbled through. When I was finished, everyone BOOED, and I took my seat. Even after all of these years, I still break out in a sweat when I think of that public hearing.

The lesson here is: Always be prepared to make a presentation.

If you truly want to be perceived as “The smartest person in the room”, get Jack’s new book: How to become the “SMARTEST PERSON” in the Room, and learn the details. You are what you are perceived to be. Let me show you how to become a MARKETING genius. Visit: to find out more.

Excerpted from How to become the “SMARTEST PERSON” in the Room. © 2018 John D. Gaskell. Used with permission of Professional Value Books, Inc. All rights reserved. Order at Use coupon code “room” and save.

Learn how to become admired. Find out how to become the smartest person in the room. Discover how to appear professional. Find out how to appear knowledgeable. Learn how to obtain training as a public speaker.