Are You Sure You Read That?

5 ways to make sure you comprehend what you just read.

We’ve all been there. Your co-worker handed you an article this morning, and when he asked you about it an hour later, you couldn’t remember the important points the article made. Sometimes what we read flows into our head and then just…dissipates! True, some authors could be better at formatting their work, but that’s no excuse, make sure you know what you just read.

I had a teacher that would tell a class of 20 to 40-year-olds that we didn’t know how to read. Or how to listen. Or how to…well you get the picture. It was Monday. But she somehow masterfully taught us how to do all those things. Again. Below are her instructions for reading and comprehending, and I have to admit they work pretty well (yes teacher, you were right). It’s so simple but not done very often. Give it a try next time!

First of all, take a deep breath and let it out.

1. Be engaged

Clear out distractions and close your office door, or put on your headphones if you have to. You may even have to schedule time to read. When you are reading, keep your pen handy to mark a stopping place if you get interrupted or to highlight something interesting.

2. The main points of the article

Look for the main point the article makes and write it down in your own words. Think of 3-5 supporting points in the article and write them down too. This method is great when you have a bunch of research and have to flip through pages to quickly to find the topic you are looking for, but it’s also great for if your boss walks in asks you what you think about the article. If you are the boss, perhaps make sure you can explain what you just read to your employees.

3. Did you have questions when you were done reading?

Look up the meaning of terms and words used in the article that you are not 100% sure you know.

4. Review

Now look at your notes/bullet points. If you share it with somebody else, can you properly explain it? If the answer is “no”, re-word and try again. This is information you want to let sink into your brain so that it becomes useful later.

5. Share

Share it with the person who gave it to you. Share it in your blog, share it in your daily notes. Share it with your pets. Share it somehow! Make sure you share your summary of the material read, not just a link or print-out of the original article.

Now you’ve read something, and hopefully you’ll remember it!

Published by

Danielle Apple

Danielle is head of our graphic design department. A self-proclaimed "sponge," she is addicted to learning about marketing and to eating chocolate.