In this post, we cover:
I had a conversation a few weeks ago with someone who was trying to figure out how to think better about the things she was learning.
She was listening to podcasts and reading articles about topics she found interesting, but she wanted to figure out how to better organize her thoughts around the things she was learning.
I challenged her to make her learning public.
My case: there’s no better way to think than to have your learning public.
Learning in public isn’t just a good way to build a portfolio and make connections (and friends!). It’s also a great way to help you think better.
There are a few reasons why talking about what you’re learning is so valuable to your thinking:
We’re going to talk about all of these here.
You may have heard this before: Writing is one of the best ways to organize your thinking.
Writing (or any type of content you can create -- an explainer video, a podcast, etc.) is much more organized than just plain thinking.
Thinking is often a messy business. Our ideas are disjoined, and not always well thought-out. But when you’re creating an organized piece of content, you have to put your thoughts in order, in a way that makes sense.
That organization helps you better understand the topic you’re talking about.
Organizing your thoughts helps you see how different things relate to each other, and why things work the way they do. Explaining your learning to someone else helps you better learn yourself. It’s actually a very important part of the learning process.
When you’re talking about something publicly, you feel more incentive to get it right.
You double check things that you might not double check if you were only researching for fun -- which means that you think about things longer, harder, and better.
This extra level of checking is helpful for two reasons:
The stakes are much higher if you’re getting something wrong on a public stage -- and because you care more about the details, you’re more likely to think harder about what you’re learning.
In turn, that extra level of attention to detail helps you better remember the things you’re learning.
Personal challenge: next time you learn something new, engage in a Twitter dialogue (or even better, a Twitter argument) about the topic. Let me explain why.
When you post something publicly, especially on social media, you open yourself up to discussion about it. You’re basically signaling to the world: hey, this is a topic I care about, and I’m sharing something, and you’re welcome to respond.
Any discussion that ensues is key for sharpening your thinking, for two reasons:
When you share your thoughts on something, you’re sharing how you’re thinking about the topic. When someone responds from their own perspective, they might bring up a point you never thought about before. They might ask you a question you’ve never had to answer.
These things help round out your understanding of whatever topic you’re learning about.
Sidebar: It’s easy to feel intimidated by having people engage you in dialogue (what if they ask me a question I can’t answer? What if they call me out on something I got wrong?). But it should actually be something you embrace. These things don’t make you a bad learner -- they make you a stronger learner, because they push you to flesh out your own understanding!
The key here is that learning in public is an important part of the learning process itself.
As long as you’re learning in public, how you do it is far less important -- meaning that you can and should do whatever works best for you.
Social media is a great way to get started learning in public -- a simple LinkedIn post or Twitter thread is all you need to get started, and it can be done in as little as 10 minutes.
Blog posts, video explainers, and podcasts are all great formats, too -- and you can find instructions for getting started with all of these different mediums on our site.
Really, though, the key is to make sure you’re consistently sharing what you’re learning -- so you want to choose the format that feels most natural for you.
And remember -- learning is supposed to be fun, and sharing what you’re learning should be too. So choose the format that feels most exciting to you, and have fun with the process!