Being able to do quick (around five minutes) readings is a great skill to have if you read for parties or events. With the holiday season approaching, many of you will find yourself in situations where the quick reading will be helpful, such as for events or at parties with friends. It is also useful if you are short on time but have a client or friend who needs a quick reading. Quick readings help you learn to see the main point of a situation, determine the best way to address that point, communicate the answer clearly, and set boundaries with your querent. Practicing these skills will help you be clearer and sharper when performing longer readings as well.

What Not to Do

There are a few things that you should not do in order to keep the reading under five minutes, so we’ll them out of the way first:

1. No time for chatting

This is not the time to exchange philosophical ideas about tarot, destiny, and the future. If your querent has questions of this nature, suggest that they schedule another appointment for when you have more time.

2. No elaborate rituals

You may have developed a bit of ritual that helps you and your querent focus and enter an open mindset. Consider developing an abbreviated version, such as lighting a single candle, closing your eyes for a moment of centering, or tapping your deck three times before or after shuffling.

3. No new decks

This “rule” may not be for everyone (highly intuitive readers may find that new decks work very well for them in this situation), but for most people it is most effective to work with a deck you know well and will therefore be more comfortable with it, eliminating one pressure.

What to Do

Since you only have five minutes, you’ll want to do everything as effectively and efficiently as possible. Here’s how:

1. The question

Help the querent ask a question that is simple and focused on one thing. For example: What is the next step….?

What are three things I can do to ….?

Should I go to….?

Multi-layered, complex questions or questions with life-altering ramifications are best dealt with in a longer session. Questions to avoid for quick readings are one like these:

What can I expect in the year ahead?

How can I balance my spiritual and daily lives?

I’m thinking of quitting my job; should I?

2. The Spread

You’ll want to have handful of spreads for use for quick readings that you know, that are small, and that are clear. Although you need not memorize them, you should have experience using them. Spreads, even simple ones, work certain ways and the more experience you have, the better you’ll understand the dynamics between the positions. The better you know the spread, the less time you’ll spend puzzling out how the spread works and the more time you can spend on interpretation.

Use small spreads. One to five cards is about the maximum that can be covered in a short reading. Too many cards on the table will scatter your attention and dilute your focus. They may also prove distracting to your querent. Many readers can answer a question very well with just one card. More is not always better and is certainly not always necessary.

Make sure the positions in the spread you select are clear and pertinent to the question. For example, if the question is “what is the next step…?” there should not be a position about “what are my hopes and dreams?” If you have a spread where two of the positions are perfect but a third one is way off, just use the two positions that are pertinent.

3. Interpret simply and clearly

You will have time to talk about each card in its position briefly, but do keep it short and relevant. This is not the time to go into the symbolism of a particular card. The main point of quick readings is the final answer. Spend most of your focus in composing a one to three sentence answer. Relate the answer directly to the question and you’ll have a satisfied querent.

4. Time management

Before you commit to quick readings, practice (with a friend or an imaginary querent) using a timer. See how long you spend on preliminary things, such as introductions, rituals, finalizing the question, and shuffling. Try answering the same question with a 1-card spread, a 2-cards spread, and a 3-card spread, etc. Notice if there is a discernable difference in the quality of the answer. You may find that you prefer a certain number of cards for quick readings and always use that number.

Depending on your time management, you will likely have varying amounts of “spare” time during these quick readings. Pay attention to the flow of the reading. If there is extra time, you can invite more querent interaction, response to the cards, or questions. There may be time to clarify and expand an answer. As you gain experience, you will have an instinctual feel for quick readings, how to shave off unnecessary things, and what can be added in, if time allows.

Fast, Focused, and Effective

Quick readings are such a benefit to a reader. They provide ways to either do many readings in a short amount of time or fit in an emergency reading on the spur of the moment. They help increase focus and communication skills. And they are effective, giving useful answers in only a few well-used minutes.

Written by Barbara Moore
The tarot has been a part of Barbara Moore’s personal and professional lives for over a decade. In college, the tarot intrigued her with its marvelous blending of mythology, psychology, art, and history. Later, she served as the tarot specialist for Llewellyn Publications. Over the years, she has ...