The ability to speed read can greatly improve your life. Imagine if you could read textbooks much faster and with higher comprehension, saving time in University. Would breakfast go faster if you could read the whole paper in a sitting? Would you get more work done if reading reports was no longer a chore? It is possible to dramatically improve your reading speed and comprehension simultaneously by learning and applying proven speed reading techniques. One of the most important speed reading techniques involves expanding your field of vision and reducing eye movements.

Expand Your Field of Vision to Reduce Eye Movements

The open human eye is either in motion or fixated and you can only see and understand during the fixated periods. Periods of time when the eyes are in motion are wasted time from a comprehension point of view. Think of a time when you were trying to watch a game on TV and read a paper. Could you do both well? Could you watch half the game and read half the book in the time it would have taken to read the whole book or watch the whole game? No, you actually saw less than half the game and were less than half as productive reading. All the time spent looking back and forth was wasted time useless for either your reading activity or game watching activity.

To see and comprehend more you need to reduce the number of times that you move your eyes (the dead time). Since the book is not getting shorter you still need to see all the words. The only way to reduce the dead time of eye movements is to see more between moving the eyes.

A Photo Example

Set aside reading for a moment and looking at this photo.

Learn to Speed Read

There is a lot of detail in the photo. Did you look at the horses, cows, wagons, and people one at a time? If you did look at everyone and everything in the photo individually you would never get to read this sentence. Looking at every horse individually is not necessary to tell that this is a country fair grand parade. By taking in the whole photo, or at least major parts of the photo, at once with your eyes you can analysis the photo much faster than looking at it object by object and person by person. Not only is it faster to take in the whole scene but you understand what the photo is all about much faster by looking at the whole photo as a unit instead of each individual element.

Apply this principle to reading now. A slow ...reader... reads... one... word... at... a...time...before ... looking... at... the... next... word. This is like looking at one person at a time in the crowd instead of looking at the whole crowd to understand there is a big crowd. Reading one word at a time is super slow and can actually mislead your understanding temporarily. For example this sentence proves that you can be temporarily mislead:  

Speed Reading is not a skill you can learn...unless you are willing to practice the necessary skills.

Applying What You Learned to Speed Read

Being aware of the need to look at multiple words at a time is the first step. Next put your new skill into practice right now. Deliberately start by reading expanding your vision to read 3 to 5 words at a time before moving on to the next batch of words. Once you have trained yourself to read in batches, increase the batch size to whole sentences. Than move up to reading whole paragraphs in a glance.

Training yourself to read batches of text will reduce the time spent moving your eyes and increase comprehension.

More Resources

This article is by necessity, short and concept oriented. There are a number of good books and computer programs that can help train you to read faster using a variety of specific techniques.  

Watch the video below and follow the exercises on expanding your field of vision to increase reading speed.


Video on How to Expand Your Field of Vision