What it Really Means to be the “Smartest Person in the Room”

I had a chat with Al Comeaux of Primed for Change, who I included in last week’s post of “meme-able” motivational quotes. I love co-opting Al’s quote in talks and workshops when I discuss strategic communications, the need to connect consistently with staff across multiple levels and departments, and what it means to be a trusted advisor to senior leaders.

I thought it was important to expand on just what he meant by the need for the PR pro to be  “the smartest person in the room.” 

Check out our brief, impactful exchange below! 

Al, how should PR pros interpret what it means to be “the smartest person in the room”?

Al: It means that as communicators, we have to be the smartest on a topic. We have to get our hands dirty on the topic…get dirt under our fingernails. We need to be the most learned on what’s to be discussed so that we can contribute to the topic as business people first, and communicators second.

Love that! We do this by consistently asking questions, staying abreast of what’s happening in the marketplace, and understanding what’s happening in the world around us and how events impact our clients and their companies. Why do you think it’s so important? 

Al: Because we grow our reputation for having both a broader and deeper view of things—beyond just communications. And we get invited back for more discussions on additional topics and—voila—we’ve earned a seat at the table. We don’t “get” a seat at the table, we have to earn it.

I think leading with curiosity inspires us to consistently seek information and ask questions about the business, the people behind the brand doing the work, key stakeholders, and the industry overall. When we do this, we become the go-to person for our clients — their trusted advisor. We’ll be better equipped to think critically, solve problems based on diverse viewpoints, and make informed, insightful recommendations. That kind of communications impact is worth its weight in gold. 

If you found yourself nodding in agreement, you’re really ready to be this and more for your clients but are still unsure about the specific steps you need to take to become the smartest person in the room, let’s chat. We’ll talk about how I can help you ensure you have the framework, skills, and confidence to consistently command the premium four- and five-figure fees clients will pay you to bring this kind of high-touch value to their organizations!