I realize there are vegetarians who see this and may choose not to read further BUT know it’s not about “eating meat”, rather “reading meat”. Not many people eat just the bun and toppings because they aren’t very nutritive nor satisfying. On the other hand, eating just the burger can be quite satisfying. When relating this concept to reading, many of us spend too much time on the minutiae, details and explanations feeling quite lost in the sea of words. When you find and spend time on the main ideas or the “meat”, you will find reading incredibly satisfying.

So where’s the beef? Do you remember Clara, the kindly old woman in the Wendy’s commercial shouting at competitors hamburgers “Where’s the Beef?” She was very entertaining and her message was memorable – and obviously is still with me!

I think of this cry when readers ask me, “How do I get what I need quickly without wasting my time?” They really want to know “Where’s the Beef?”

The proverbial “beef” or meat of your reading is easy to find if you are reading non-fiction (factual) material. This is the stuff that is typically more daunting anyway such as your work documents, internet research, policies and procedures or academic textbooks.

So where IS the beef?

The biggest chunk is found in the first sentence (or two) of a paragraph. What this means is if you want to get the main ideas quickly without wasting time, read the title, the first few paragraphs of introduction and then STOP reading every word. START reading JUST the first sentences of paragraphs (or if you have to, the second as well), get the gist and move to the next first sentence of the next paragraph. And continue doing this until you either got enough or until the last few paragraphs which you might want to read more in detail.

Doing this will accomplish a few things:

  1. Help you to quickly weed out uninteresting or not useful material
  2. Introduce you to the writer’s structure so you can choose which paragraphs to read in more detail
  3. Build a mental framework which makes it easier to remember
  4. And most importantly, save you time!

Tell your friends and colleagues about this one – they’ll be glad you did

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