Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Speed Reading for the Executive

Dr. Pauk hypothesizes that speed reading, as taught, doesn’t work. He summarizes his belief by using the example of someone who says he can read 40,000 words per minute (wpm). He equates that to reading 133 pages of a book in one minute. He further demonstrates that even at 10,000 wpm, that equates to 33 pages per minute, or 2 seconds per page. He proposes an alternative method for deciding what to read.

Dr. Paulk looks at how a busy executive can stay current with journal and other readings without the need of traditional speed reading techniques. Instead, he suggests going through each periodical, when it is received. He proposes a multi-step process to eliminate a pile of “to read” items on an executive’s desk.

Before tackling the journals and magazines received, Paulk suggests that executives analyze what they are getting and why in order to eliminate items that will not add to professional knowledge.

Once a journal arrives he proposes an executive review the table of contents of each magazine or journal received to see what articles are of interest. If any articles warrant further investigation, then read the conclusion, or last paragraph, of those articles immediately to decide if you will learn something new in the article. If the answer is affirmative, then either read the article immediately or take it home to read that night.

He suggests that if it is worth reading, then it is worth reading sooner, rather than later. Once the article is read, he then instructs the executive to write down any ideas he has on index cards…one idea per card…and give it a title, then note the journal article, journal, date and page number. Once that is completed, the executive is told to discard or pass on the magazine or journal to another person.

This article suggests that astronomical speed reading rates are unrealistic and practitioners lose the ability to comprehend the reading at advanced rates. It goes on to propose a process for tackling piles of magazines or journals that allows an executive to gain insight needed to better perform his job. To relate the article to modern technologies, would be to use a note-taking type of program to file interesting ideas from readings instead of keeping the entire journal article on a hard drive.

Pauk, Dr. Walter. Speed Reading for the Executive. Training Directors. March 1965. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.mercyhurst.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=8951161&site=eds-live


  1. I find this technique very interesting and I might use that technique and suggest it to others. Did the authors indicate the executive's ability to manage the amount of reading with the new method?

  2. So in short... read the table of contents, read the last paragraph of the articles you want to know about, and write down a few summary points somewhere. I'm not sure if it counts as speed reading so much as just being very selective before the reading even starts, but it does make sense for the time-pressured executive (or analyst), at least for a preliminary scan.

  3. It really doesn't count as speed reading. The main purpose of the article was to debunk speed reading as unrealistic if you want to comprehend what you are reading. Apparently it does work to limit the stacks of current reading.