For those of you who don’t remember, speed-reading courses were all the rage in the 70’s (Evelyn Wood being the most famous). It appears they are back, but with a new “iterative” approach that makes much more sense. I can see benefit from it already.

While I was attending the University of Oregon, I signed up for their speed-reading course and got exactly zero benefit from it (although perhaps I read even slower back then). I wrote the whole idea off as a scam. However I was recently introduced to a new “iterative” or top-down approach, which definitely speeds things up – especially for technical/professional texts.

Adios Front-to-Back

Although this new method uses a bit of the old approach (skimming and reading words in clusters), it also recommends reading through the document in order of importance, rather than the old-fashioned method of front to back. It may not be the approach you want to use for “50 Shades of Gray,” but I’d definitely give it a try for that 50 page strategic plan that has been sitting in your inbox giving you the stink-eye for the last two weeks.

Here’s How

  • First – Read the introduction or executive summary
  • Second – Read the conclusion/summary section
  • Third – Take a look at the titles, figures and graphs. Lastly, read the beginnings and ends of paragraphs. If they are well written, they will each have an introduction and conclusion as well.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

For more information, check out this article. For a good 37-second laugh, listen to Cheech & Chong’s sendup in the “Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Course.”

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(Photo courtesy FutUndBeidl)