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5 Reasons Why Speed Reading Should be a Part of Your L&D Program

Jennifer Goddard's picture

I was recently interviewed by Donna Hanson from Prime Solutions Training and Consulting for their new Expert Insights CD series on why Speed Reading should be part of your Learning and Development Programs.

The series is designed to give Human Resources professionals access to the latest trends, ideas, philosophies and approaches that impact on how organisations manage, retain, engage and recruit staff.

As this interview won’t be released for a while we thought it would be good to share the rough transcript this you.

Jennifer, how did you come to be a specialist in Speed Reading?

I realised I needed to read more effectively when I started a Business Degree in my early 30’s. Having left school at 15 and being diagnosed as dyslexic at 21, I found it difficult keeping up with all the reading. 

Through sheer necessity I went along to a one day Speed Reading course developed by Tony Buzan and had a life changing epiphany.

I discovered that it is not always about fast, but reading at different speeds for different purposes and being strategic about my reading.

With the skills I learnt, I finished my degree easily and a few years later completed my Masters in Entrepreneurship and Innovation with high distinctions.

Part of this journey saw us establishing Mindwerx International to help organisations be more creative and innovative.

Interestingly if you can remember something that you read, saw or discussed, 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 years ago and apply it to a situation right now, then you will be much more creative and innovative.

So in order to help organisations be more innovative, we needed to also help them with underlying skills of Memory, Mind Mapping and Speed Reading (what we call Range and Rapid Reading).

What are some reasons Speed Reading should be a part of every organisation’s Learning & Development Program?

There are lots of reasons to read better, speed reading being just one type of reading of course. 

In fact we talk about reading strategically with Range and Rapid Reading, but 5 common reasons we’ve seen HR and L&D people promote speed reading within their organisations are that effective reading…

  1. Helps people cope with the Overload of Information
  2. Enables Front-Line Innovation
  3. Assists with prioritising workload
  4. Helps everyone adjust to rapidly changing technology
  5. And it also helps Reduces Stress

1.    Helping to cope with the Overload of Information

Every day, people are confronted by vast amounts of new information flowing towards them from a multitude of sources.  Almost everyone feels overwhelmed at some point when trying to absorb, understand and apply this new information.  

The impact on individuals varies from simple time wasting to serious health problems, while for organisations the effect is compounded into a massive loss of productivity and poor performance.  

According to a recent report “Australian workers are the most likely to admit that the amount of information they have to manage for their jobs has increased in the past five years (92%) with two-thirds (65%) saying the amount has increased significantly. Compared to other markets surveyed, Australians spend more time receiving and managing information (54%) than actually using that information (46%).”
-Information Rage Impacting Australian Workers, LexisNexis 2010

If people are able to get the information they need in faster, comprehend it better, and then recall and use it more effectively they are managing information overload.  We know we can’t eliminate it, but speed reading and reading with purpose and focus, using effective strategies definitely help them manage information overload. 

And these strategies for reading apply to all types of reading, from the latest business books, articles and research papers, to internal reports, and even help with online material.

2.    Speed reading enables Front-Line Innovation and how HR Professionals can benefit

Every organisation today knows that continuous improvement and innovation are vital for lasting success.  And they know that innovation isn’t restricted to senior people or specialists, it actually begins and ends with people on the front line.

And it’s HR’s role to help ensure staff in all areas have the knowledge and skills to contribute ideas within their sphere of influence. 

While there are a wide range of methods and skills, many of which we train people in our workshops, that will help employees contribute ideas, it is people’s underlying experience and knowledge that feeds idea generation.

It just makes sense that if an individual has broad knowledge and experience, he or she can contribute better. 

If your team reads widely and strategically and develops the ability to scan broadly for new information, which is one of the key benefits of speed reading, then the team is better placed to make connections between things that might just lead to innovation ideas and solutions. 

Managers need to encourage staff to scan widely for information by leading the way, and it’s HR and L&D people that can promote that.

In addition Front Line Innovation demands some time be spent on it, and if people are already too busy with day to day activities they aren’t able to focus on being more innovative. 

So being able to read efficiently and effectively on the right type of material enables more time for ‘future’ thinking.

Greater opportunity to scan for new opportunities and ideas results in increased potential to grow new markets, plan future strategies and endeavours, and beat the competition

3.  Assisting with Prioritising Workload

Again this is about reading strategically, not just with speed, but with purpose.  People often get overloaded or behind because they can’t cope with all the stuff they have to read, and priorities can often get confused and even put aside because of this.

For example we recently heard politicians complain that they only had a few weeks to read new legislation before having to vote on it. 

In workplaces, people put reading important information off because they don’t have time, and they delay projects or make mistakes as a result. 

Speed reading and reading with purpose and strategy allows people to get through more material faster, with better comprehension and recall, allowing them to make better decisions and set better priorities.

HR and L&D people have a role to play in debunking traditional reading myths and promoting using reading techniques such as power browsing, skimming, scanning, and more allows you to read better, faster and with more satisfaction. 

The ability to read strategically leads to an increase in reading speed, comprehension and recall and is a major skill that can be developed to better manage and prioritise incoming information.  

No 4 was adjusting to Rapidly Changing Technology
We all find reading on a screen much different than reading from a piece of paper – in fact research shows that it can be up to 30% slower reading on screen.

Many of us prefer to print out the materials and read them later. While many younger employees, who are more used to reading on screen, will print less out – saving time and money.

Technology has significantly changed how we read so we need to upgrade our reading skills and learn how to read online more effectively.

Getting new information into your head effectively is more than so called ‘speed reading’,  You need to read with purpose using a number of simple reading strategies to get what you need from emails, books, articles, newspapers, etc

5. The final way – Reduces Stress.

Most of us read at Grade 4 level because that is when we last learnt HOW to read – With the changes in technology, workload demands and the shear amount of reading we all need to do, not having the right skills leads to increased levels of stress.

We need to shift our approach/thinking and upgrade our skills in order to be much more effective and feel in control.

When a person can read effectively – that is with purpose and focus, using a range of reading strategies including speed reading they cope better with information overload, they manage priorities better, they engage with new technology rather than avoid or misuse it, and they are able to contribute their creative genius to help the organization improve.  All of that is immensely satisfying, which make work a better less stressful place to be.

Also we’ve seen many many people learn and apply these simple reading methods with great success, that they introduce them to their family and friends, particularly their children.  And this really gives them a great feeling, and reduces not only their stress levels, but of those they love.

It’s very satisfying for me when I see this happen.


What to know more? jennifer[at]mindwerx[dot]com or just go to our website or www.

Jennifer is the Director, Buzan Centre: Australia/NZ and co-founder of Mindwerx International. An expert in the area of creativity and innovation, Jennifer works with a wide variety of organisations in Australia, NZ, USA, Middle East, South Africa, UK, China and Asia.

One of only four Master Trainers in Tony Buzan’s Mind Mapping® and other Advanced Learning Techniques, including Speed Reading and Memory, Jennifer mentors a worldwide network of trainers and L&D professionals.
Interestingly, Jennifer is the Senior Judge at the World Memory Championships and Convenor of the Australian Memory Championships and was Crowned ‘Australia’s Memory Maven’ by Anthill Magazine.

Jennifer trains and coaches Advanced Learning Techniques, including Speed Reading and Memory Development, and personally works with Tony Buzan around the world.
About Donna Hanson from Prime Solutions Training & Consulting, helping you work SMARTER and not HARDER With Technology.

Our Expert Insights CD series is designed to give Human Resources professionals access to the latest trends, ideas, philosophies and approaches that impact on how organisations manage, retain, engage and recruit staff.

We know that HR & L&D roles are all encompassing and that it is often hard to find time to step outside your world and explore what is happening in other organisations around the world.  Prime’s Expert Insights CD’s are designed to provide you with concise information on topics relevant to you on a regular basis in a format that maximises your time and keeps you up to date with current trends in the industry.

For more information on Prime Solutions Training and Consulting and our services, visit our website