The Best Way to Learn About a New Topic

This method has many added benefits as well

Erik-Jan van Baaren
Mar 3 · 4 min read
Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

You really, REALLY should learn about this one thing that guarantees you a better position on the job market. But learning about things that are new to us can be incredibly difficult. We’ve all been there. We’ve all had the struggle.

If you want to learn, there’s a method I recommend heartily. It’s by no means a trick or a way to learn quicker. But it does allow you to get a much deeper, lasting understanding of a topic.


Write about it!

If you try to explain something to others, you need to think really hard about the structure of a topic. If you want to explain how a car works, you can’t just tell your audience that it has wheels, they roll — oh and it has an engine — so yeah, logically a car works!

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

No! You need to tell the story from front to end. You start with the basics: how an engine works. Then you can tell how the engine’s energy is transmitted to the wheel. Speaking about wheels: a car has a steering wheel, and it works like this.

You slowly reveal all the secrets that make a car work, in a logical order. While doing that, you force yourself to dive into the topic, clearly seeing the relation between subtopics, and explore the subject in much more detail than you would by just ‘regular’ learning.

You don’t have to write for a big audience to learn a new topic. Writing well and for a large audience is hard. But writing on your own blog? No so hard — and a lot less pressure.

If you’re lucky, you can still teach a few people something new. Or refer a colleague to it, if applicable. If not, no problem! You learned something new and at the same time have well-structured notes of it! I find myself referring back to my own articles all the time. My memory is terrible — but I usually do remember I wrote about it before.

Another advantage of writing on the web is that you’re showcasing your knowledge. Who knows what might come from you explaining this stuff and sharing all this useful information?


Present it!

Photo by Product School on Unsplash

The stuff I presented about in the past is still thoroughly engraved in my brain. The pressure of an audience that’s listening to you, potentially asking you questions, forces you to go even deeper!

And presenting can be a huge ego-booster. If your audience liked it, they tend to let you know. At first through applause, but usually, you’ll get some enthusiastic reactions and comments after the dust settles too.

I’ve had people come up to me years later, asking about a topic I presented about, or even asking me to present it again.

“Hey, you’re an expert on Docker, right?”

Uh no, I’m not —

“But you had that great presentation on it! When was it, a few months ago?”

Ohhh… right. And that’s where my imposter syndrome usually kicks in.


Wrap up

This way of learning not only forces you to go deeper, but it also has added benefits. If you share and show your expertise, beautiful things may one day come of it! And if not? At least you learned something new and still have the notes.

Tech Explained

Understandable, practical and useful explanations of…

Erik-Jan van Baaren

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A writer at heart and software/data engineer by profession. Subscribe to my low-volume newsletter at https://techexp.substack.com/

Tech Explained

Understandable, practical and useful explanations of technology

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