How to teach people who know way, way more than you do

I have this problem every, single day. But it especially shows itself when I’m called to teach something more formally than in casual conversation.

But whenever I have this problem, I run a few things through my mind. This is what I try to do when I’m trying to teach people who know way, way more than I do.

Move out of “helping them know more” mode

Sometimes we think of teachers as those who reveal new things to us. I’ve given up on doing that. Because I’ll lose every time. There’s not much out there that I know that’s new to others.

That amount gets even smaller when I try to find something I know that’s new to others and is meaningful (instead of just knowing what toothpaste I used this morning).

Move into “helping them apply more” mode

Lots of people know stuff, but not many people actually act on what they know. That’s where you can come in.

You can help people act on what they already know. I call this reminding, bringing stuff to mind for them again, and realizing, making stuff real for them instead of some theory out there. From there, it’s much more likely that they’ll apply this stuff.

Teaching people to act on info they already know opens a ton of possibilities for you, because people who know more than you don’t necessarily apply more than you.

But there’s still a huge problem here. Most people don’t act, so why would you be able to help them do it? This gets to the last part of what I’d suggest…

Teach from experience

If people wanted facts, they could get them on their own from a textbook. They don’t want facts from people – they want personal experience. So give it to them.

And two things I’d add to that:

1.Teach from recent experience. If you can’t remember it, how are you going to get someone else to remember it? For that matter, if it’s not important enough for you to remember, why should someone else need to remember it?

2. Teach from meaningful experience. If you’re talking about your morning toothpaste, no one’s going to care… unless, unless you really care. Share what excites you. Everyone says that, but not many people actually follow the advice (perhaps because they’re almost dead anyway and don’t feel much excitement).

That’s all I got for now. Off to follow my own advice here.

What would you add?

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