How to master a skill quickly

In two simple words, “Teach it!” Reading something is nice, writing down notes to help you remember key points is better, but if you really want to commit what you’ve learned to memory, share it with someone else.

Taking notes reinforces what you’ve learned, especially if you think further about the subject or idea while doing so. But unless you decide to research the subject in more depth, you’ll only have limited knowledge.

That’s why if you really want to understand a subject, you need to teach it to at least one other person. Consider the following points:

  • Teaching forces you to think harder because you’ll anticipate questions and start formulating your answers.
  • A simple conversation with another person helps you reinforce your knowledge visually, audibly & kinesthetically.
  • The act of sharing information with others provides two way feedback, so you can also learn from their perspective and ideas.

I got my start in training over 10 years ago as a college instructor. The course was on a subject I knew well, Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. Within my circle of friends, I was considered the expert in these technologies.

So when I started teaching my first class, I was shocked to find out how little I knew (and how some of these college freshmen knew things about the subject that I didn’t). I had used these technologies (and their predecessors) for years, but I wasn’t familiar with every feature. After teaching six classes over two semesters, I felt like I mastered these applications.

So next time you want to learn something, research it a bit and teach it to someone. Whether you have a conversation with a coworker or teach a course at your local continuing education program, teach it to someone.

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