The Feynman Technique is one of the most effective strategies to master your understanding of any skill.
I first encountered this listening to a Stephen Covey seminar.
I recall John Maxwell and Brian Tracy sharing this.
Learning with the intention of teaching is the best way to learn.
Teach someone to prove that you understand.
Business owners often ask me to teach what I know.
Great discussions lead to sales.
Poor explanations lead to rejection.
Here are some reminders:
- Explain the topic.
- Avoid copying other people’s explanations.
- Aim to understand instead of just know.
Knowing that something exists qualifies as a “know.”
You can tell people that “you know how to cook” if you successfully either boil an egg or instant noodles.
Understanding, however, is a different story.
Understanding often invites challengers.
You’ll need to either show proof of a significant accomplishment or at the very least “explain the concept well” to prove to people that you understand something.
I can tell my interviewer that I understand how to make websites.
A novice interviewer will ask for a diploma.
An experienced interviewer will likely ask for the link.
Detailed Steps of the Feynman Technique:
Select a specific topic.
Don’t select broad topics.
Writing about “how to cook beef in under 30 minutes” is better than “I’ll write about food.”
Be specific, then go deeper.
Write a simple explanation of the topic.
Aim for 3-5 sentences or 160 characters.
Write the shorthand explanation.
Write a detailed explanation of your topic.
Write the long-form explanation.
Add as many details.
Give as many examples.
Summarize your explanation.
Compress your information into five, ten, and twenty sentence versions of your explanation.
Aim to simplify and use familiar everyday words instead of specialized language.
Examples of Words to Avoid:
- Julienne (cut into strips)
- Mise en place (prepare and organize tools and ingredients in your work area)
- sauté (stir-fry)
- I’m closing the client (I’m processing the order.)
Keep your language simple.
Practice being concise.
Replace technical words with layman’s terms.
Review your writing.
Identify and list gaps in your explanation.
Research the gaps.
Re-read, find new sources.
Listen to other conversations, discussions, and explanations of the topic.
Take notes and document what you learned.
Repeat the process.
Build better explanations.
It would be best if you rewrote your explanation from scratch.
Keep your old writing and compare to see how you’ve grown.
OTHER BENEFITS OF THE FEYNMAN TECHNIQUE:
You can apply this method to other areas of your life:
- Business plans
- Marketing plans
- Personal projects
- Budget planning
- Sales pitch
- Career plans (used in the interview)
This method also applies to decision-making.
You don’t understand if you can’t teach.
I recommend that you follow the steps with the intention of teaching others.
You are not required to teach others.
However, you receive additional benefits if you do.
Other people zone out and lose interest if you have a weak explanation.
Mastering the Feynman Technique can also help you detect bullshit in other people.
People who don’t know the topic will likely use fancy words to sound intelligent or credible, and this is a red flag not to trust people.
We naturally know this, but this is a good reminder if you have a history of being tricked.
Credible people use simple words with clear explanations.
I’ve been doing this for years and feel that I’ve grown in my career and reached my personal goals using this technique.
Push yourself to understand this lesson.
Read this post again and again.
Push yourself to explain mysteries with plain language.
Thank you for reading.
If you have a question or would like to say anything tweet or send me an email.