How To Speed Read the Economist
How do we speed through The Economist and get the information that we want?
I’m going to discuss with you a two-step strategy to speed read through the economist. Let’s assume that you’ve already looked at the table of contents. Maybe you’ve even read the first part of the economist which is “The world this week”, which has little summaries of various things that happened during the week. Let’s say you’re on your first article. Most people, they make a mistake and they just start reading the article form beginning to end. This is not the best way to approach an article especially if I’m trying to speed through this magazine.
Here are the steps:
1. Read the first and last paragraph
One of the things that I recommend before you start reading the article fully is you read the first and last paragraph. That is the first thing that you would do. Why would you read the first and last paragraph? Because the first paragraph tends to be an introduction and the last paragraph tends to be a conclusion. So we want to get that right at the beginning. That’s our step number one. Read your first and last paragraph, your intro and your summary.
2. Read the first sentence of each and every single paragraph
Now, if there are any headings there that come along you may want to read the headings as well. You read the heading and then the first sentence of a paragraph and then the next sentence. And you do this paragraph by paragraph.
Why would you read the first sentence of every paragraph? I think it’s obvious to you that the first sentence tends to be your topic sentence. It’s your main idea. It is the meat of that paragraph. After that what follows are details. I read the first sentence of every paragraph in that article because that tells me, “Here are all the big concepts, the big ideas, the most important things that are going to be covered in this article.” Now that’s my second step, reading the first sentence of every paragraph.
Deciding if the article is worth your time
What do I do after that? Well, I need to make a decision and this is really an important decision that a lot of people forget about. Is this article worth my time? Because you know what, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, I read the first sentence of every paragraph and I know what that article’s about and I don’t want to get any more information about it because maybe that information is but in the news all week and I’m sick of hearing it. Or maybe I know enough about that topic already and it just surely isn’t worth my time. Or maybe I’m no longer interested in that article. If that’s the case I just cross out the title of the article and I’m done with it. I move on to the next one.
Now, what if I do these first two steps and realize, “Hey this article is really interesting. I want to get more detail, I want to read it.” Okay. Well, read it. But what I do when I’m getting through the Economist, my goal is to go through this cover to cover initially. What I do if I want to read this article fully. I simply just circle the title. And you know what? I’ll read it later. I’m on to the next article and I repeat the process.
Now you might not do it on some of the articles because there are some articles that when you read the title you know right off the bat from the headline that it’s not in your interest. You just cross those out. You don’t even do your first steps.
But what if you were to do these two steps on each and every single article in the Economist? One of the things that you’re going to find yourself is your going to find a lot more efficiency and you’re going to be optimizing your time because what you’re doing is you’re getting the most important information first.
Now you’ve got all the main ideas. And now you have most of the information about what that article is going to be about. And if you want to read it, you can read it later. But first, the first step is to get through the entire magazine and a lot of people, they don’t think about reading the Economist this way. Actually, it’s a much more efficient way to approach the magazine.
So, to summarize, the next time you have your Economist. After you look through the table of contents, and you’re about to read your first article, do not read it beginning to end. What I want you to try doing is to read your first and last paragraph. Read the first sentence of each and every single paragraph and do that article by article through the entire magazine and that will help you filter which articles you want to read and which articles you don’t want to read. And that’s how you speed read through the Economist.
Paul is the founder of Iris Reading, the largest provider of speed-reading and memory courses. His workshops have been taught to thousands of students and professionals worldwide at institutions that include: NASA, Google, HSBC and many Fortune 500 companies.