Why You Need to Learn How to Teach (Even if You're Not a Teacher)

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Early on in my transition from being full-time employed (as an instructor at a small university) to being full-time self-employed, I began working with my husband helping him with his website design business. My husband has many strengths, however, being able to communicate with his clients effectively was not one of the them; in fact, he ran into some serious obstacles in helping them understand what he was doing, why he was doing it, and why it was valuable.

That’s where I came in: using strategies I’d employed as an educator, I was able to teach the clients about their project. It lead to higher success rates in signing new clients, and clients that were happier with the work because they understood what we were doing. Since then I’ve mostly transitioned into my own work as a coach and trainer, but every so often I still attend meetings with my husband to help him educate his clients about their projects.

Like most people, I used to think that “teaching” was limited to classrooms and other formal educational settings. But now I firmly believe that being able to teach effectively is one skill that can transform your career, no matter what industry or profession you’re in.

Being able to teach is the key to helping your clients, customers, and colleagues understand and value your work, ideas, services, or products.

Knowing the fundamentals of teaching will help you lead more productive meetings, deliver higher-quality presentations, and train your new hires more effectively. And all of that leads to lower turnover (which is expensive), happier employees, and more business. This goes beyond simply being able to explain things more effectively. Teaching strategies include developing a measurable objective, explaining complex concepts in a simple manner, and using quality evidence to support your key points. Additionally, these strategies aren’t limited to presentations or face-to-face interactions.

Consider the role of the blog in content marketing. Early on blogs were basically online diaries where people detailed their daily lives. Now they’re resource centers that businesses use to educate their clients. An effective, well-written blog post teaches customers and clients about how that business will solve their key problems. Companies are now willing to invest in writers who understand how to write to explain, teach, and inform their audiences about their key product or service because it brings in higher-quality leads with higher conversion rates.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the adage about if you teach someone to fish, they’ll eat for a lifetime. But even better, once they experience success from their fishing, they will come back to you and ask “What else can you teach me?” You will have established yourself as someone who knows how to solve problems and offer value through your teaching.

In any profession, using educational strategies in your meetings, sales and marketing, conferences calls, and trainings, will help your audience to better understand your key value proposition. When they understand your value - which is you know how to teach them something that solves their problem - they are more likely to adopt your viewpoint, agree with your ideas and strategies, buy your product or service, etc. And who doesn’t want that?

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