Limited Time to Read?
I spoke to a business owner recently who was struggling with a business book. She really wanted to read it but like all business owners, she had limited time to read. She needed ways to get at the key themes of the book quickly and easily so she could read the full text with more understanding.
This is an issue that also arises in respect of complex reports, lengthy guidance documents and a whole host of other documents. In today’s fast-paced world, getting at the key information quickly and easily is critical so I’ve put together a few ideas to help with this.
With any document skimming the contents page first is a great start. If you are dealing with a report that has an executive summary, read that next as it will cover all of the main points and conclusions quickly and easily.
To gain more information, move on to the introduction and conclusion of the report, or in the case of a book, each chapter.
If you are reading to gather particular information, for example, a report that you need to read ahead of a meeting, or a book from which you are researching a specific issue, then read only those sections that relate to what you need to know. You can go back and read the rest later if you wish to, or find you need to. The contents, introduction and conclusions should guide you to the right places.
You can also flick through the book to see if it is helpfully laid out with “Key points” and “action points” type boxes or other ways in which the author has signposted key content. These make skim reading for understanding very easy as you can find the bits you need to read in more detail very easily whilst also getting a good grasp of the whole book.
Laser Targeted Searching
If it is a book and you really do only need to know about one very specific thing, then go directly to the index at the back, note down all the pages that relate to that thing, and read only those pages.
Views and Reviews
If these tips don’t speed things up enough for you, or you are still struggling and would welcome the views of other people on the book to see what they made of it, then try an internet search for the book precis or review. Often this will bring up enough information to get you back into the book and reading actively or it may answer your query entirely.
If you are not sure whether a particular book will include the information you need to know, you can look on book review sites to find out more about the contents, how easy the book is to read and how useful people have found it. Good sites for this include Amazon and Good Reads. On Amazon you can sometimes look inside the book. This often includes the contents page, allowing you to find out whether the book really will include the information you need.
Did you see the Movie?
If you are not a reader but really want to learn more from business books, there are YouTube videos which provide animated precis of key business books. Really great if you are visual learner.
A Quick Word in your Ear
Finally, for those people who love to learn on the go, there is Blinkist, which for a small fee, allows you to download a fifteen minute precis of thousands of business and other non-fiction books so you can listen as you run, drive or go about your daily routine.
And if you still don’t have time to search for the content or information you need, get in touch, I’d be happy to help.