The Feynman Technique

How explaining something in the simplest and easiest to understand terms you can, will help deepen your understanding on that topic.

  • Published: 2020-04-01
  • Updated: 2020-11-18
  • 3 min read
Learning Objectives
  • Understand what the feynman technique is.
  • How to use the feynman technique.
  • Why the feynman technique is useful for learning.

The Feynman Technique is a Mental Model that is designed to help you deepen your understanding on any given topic, which will lead to more efficient learning and effortless memorization.

It’s named after the late Richard Feynman, a theoretical physicist who won a Nobel Prize for his work in quantum electrodynamics. He was well know for being able to explain difficult and complex topics to the layman, which is what this technique is all about.

The point of this technique is to explain something you already know in a simple and concise way, in a way that anyone would be able to understand. Doing this, your own understanding of the topic will deepen and you’ll be able to easily remember it in the future.

Instructions: How to Do the Feynman Technique

  1. Choose a concept.
    You’ll need to choose a topic that you want to thoroughly understand and which you already have some knowledge of. If you have no previous knowledge on the topic, you’ll need to first learn the basics of it. After you have a basic understanding, you can move on to the second step.
  2. Explain the concept.
    After you’ve chosen a concept, you’ll need to explain it, in your own words, as simply as possible. Take a piece of paper, write the concept at the top, and begin writing and speaking at the same time. Imagine yourself being a teacher and using the whiteboard to teach your students who are clueless about the topic.
  3. Review areas you couldn’t explain.
    After explaining it for the first time, you’ll notice areas which you had trouble explaining, those are the areas which you don’t understand well enough. You need to go back and review the source material. Afterwards, repeat step 2. Once you can explain the whole concept, move on to the next step.
  4. Simplify your explanation.
    Now simplify your explanation as much as possible. Remove and replace all the jargon and create simple analogies. Once you can explain the topic you’ve chosen in a simple and concise way, you’ve deeply understood it and will be able to recall it whenever needed.
Takeaways
  • When explaining the topic, strive to make your explanation as simple and concise as possible. Use simple words (avoid jargon), images, analogies, and various examples. Try to explain it in a way that a layman or a child could understand.
  • If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
  • When explaining, make sure you’re not parroting back what you read or heard, use your own words.
  • If you don’t know if your explanation is good enough, try teaching someone and see if they understood.
  • It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you understand something, but you won’t know for sure until you can actually explain the whole thing simply.
Supplementary Material