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Productivity / Professional development

Optimise learning by showing you know

You’ve spent time and energy learning something new and you’re about to put this new knowledge into action. For many, this is when they realise they hadn’t really learned what they meant to learn after all, so here are some ways to optimise learning.

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Whether you are learning something for an exam, or for a business application, an opportunity will come along soon after learning when you can apply and demonstrate your new knowledge, skills, or behaviours. It’s like a moment of truth, and I call it your ‘chance to shine’.

During my workshops on helping people to optimise learning I ask how many people approach their chance to shine knowing with a high degree of certainty that they’ll perform well. Many are uncertain as to how well they’ll do; they seem to know that failure could be an option! Keeping one eye on ‘failure’ like that is going to increase the probability of you heading down that path.

When it comes to learning, most people choose to put their efforts in to learning, learning and learning some more in a desperate attempt to make sure they’ve ‘got it’ for when their chance to shine comes. Students are well known for cramming in this way before exams.

By doing so, they focus on a process (and for many, a faulty one at that!) and not a result. Learning is the process. The result is ‘knowing’ and being able to communicate this for an exam or being able to successfully apply this for on the job applications.

"I believe that real learning has taken place not just when you know, but when you know that you know."

I would suggest taking this a step further. I believe that real learning has taken place not just when you know, but when you know that you know. It’s at this point when you optimise learning and your performance and confidence can hit new heights.

Want more articles like this? Check out the professional development section.

Students may cram in the last minutes before an exam, and business owners may cram before a sales meeting, or a presentation they’re about to deliver, thinking that they’re preparing to the full. It’s often then, during their chance to shine, that they catch themselves thinking, ‘oops! I thought I’d learned this, but I haven’t!’ And of course this is soon reflected in their results.

So if you want to improve your results and optimise learning, don’t just focus on the process of learning. Add the vital ‘show you know’ step to your learning. Leave time to check what you know, and time to re-learn what you don’t know. Without this step, you haven’t learned for sure, and your efforts may be wasted.

What’s the best way to do this?

As soon as you feel you’ve learned what you set out to learn, test yourself. Make the test as near to the real ‘chance to shine’ as possible. If you can’t simulate a situation you can certainly immerse your imagination in what’s ahead. Visualise a sales meeting for example, perhaps commentate into an audio recorder what’s happening and what you’ll do or say. Measure your results against what you learned and identify what you need to learn further.

I’ll cover another way to show that you know that can also help with your retention of knowledge too in a future article.

The ‘show you know’ step may seem obvious to some, but so many people don’t do it. And of course when your chance to shine comes, knowing for sure that you know takes your confidence, certainty, performance and results to a new level.

Perhaps you have some further ideas on how you can optimise learning and ‘show you know’ before approaching various testing business situations?

Mark Moore

is the Director of Excelerated Performance International. He helps people to close the skills and knowledge gaps that they face, much faster, and manage themselves more effectively in order to achieve their business goals.

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