Learning and developing new skills is important for any professional, but it isn’t always easy. A new Harvard Business Review article explains how talking to yourself out loud, or “self-explaining,” can help boost your ability to learn.

  • Talking to yourself makes you slow down and think about things more deliberately, allowing you to gain more from the learning experience. Ask yourself: “What do I find confusing? Do I really know this?” Whether you hit the pause button while listening to a podcast or stop to reflect while reading a manual, you develop skills more effectively by thinking about your thinking.
  • Asking yourself “Why?” provides the opportunity to discover how well you really know the topic at hand. Try to answer the question fully, including the inevitable follow-ups. This will help you discover your knowledge gaps and provide the opportunity to be proactive—to do your own research or seek help as needed.
  • Summarizing is important. Put the idea into your own words to promote learning. Pretend you’re summing it up for a friend. This sort of verbal recap often allows you to learn and retain more information.
  • Make connections. Self-explaining can help you see new links and associations, which can give you a richer understanding of the subject and improve your memory. Try to find the relationships between the new ideas you’re learning—think of mnemonics tools.

See the full HBR article: “Talking to Yourself (Out Loud) Can Help You Learn.”