Bob Pozen is chairman emeritus of MFS Investment Management and senior lecturer at Harvard Business School. Those who know him say that he “gets an awful lot accomplished with a minimum of visible effort and stress.”

Here he explains how he trained his kids to be speed readers:

Here’s what I did to teach my kids and nephews to become speed readers. I would see them doing some dense reading such as chapters in a history or science textbook, and I would say: “When you get to the exam in a month or two, what do you want to remember from this chapter? After reading this chapter, please write no more than the one or two paragraphs you want to remember for the exam. Then go back and see how you could read more efficiently to obtain that paragraph or two.”

One of the reasons why some people are slow readers is that they’re reading every word. Instead, they should read the introduction, the conclusions and the tops of the paragraphs to determine if that part of the chapter is really important for them.

But you’ve got to know what you’re reading for. Are you reading for certain facts? Are you reading for new analysis? Are you reading for the author’s general themes or the specific support for these themes?

  • Amanda Kaylon

    Dear Sir,My mother and I both read this way, and it definitely saves time and work when you know what you are looking for, and where you are most likely to find it. Unfortunately, we’re both so accustomed to speed reading that it’s often hard to keep from skimming the literature we really would like to read word-by-word. I think it must take discipline both to learn how to speed read, and how to stop doing it when you need to.Thank you for posting the “how-to” for speed reading. My siblings will probably find it more helpful than my attempts at explaining it.