The art of speed reading is fascinating. We all spend a lot of our time reading; web pages, emails, text messages and books to name a few. Therefore being able to read more swiftly would be a boost to our productivity and allow us to complete our work more quickly and efficiently. The basis of how I speed read, and the information that I learnt to speed read with, was to support the level of comprehension, or understanding, that I had when reading “slowly” whilst increasing the speed of my reading.
What is speed reading?
Speed reading is attempting to read a piece of text as quickly as possible whilst reading all the words and having a normal (i.e. slow reading speed) level of comprehension. It is not skimming which is where you miss out words and attain a basic understanding of the text, although this is a good alternative technique to know as well.
Why you should use it
Productivity in the workplace is vitally important. We do an awful lot of reading and the primary reason I believe you should invest your time in learning to speed read is to improve your daily output. It would help with any text-based tasks including emails, reading reports and letters. This was the primary reason that I learnt to speed read and I think it is the reason you should study to as well. Other reasons may include if you are a student wanting to read books or articles more quickly, teachers who want to mark students work more efficiently or just for the fun of it.
Basic speed reading techniques
From the many books, blogs and articles on the subject there are a few fundamental techniques that underpin how people can speed read. The biggest change to my reading speed is the way I read the text, in other words how my eyes scan the pages. Rather than reading one word at a time, we should read several. Start off small only reading two or three words at a time but try to work up to as many as possible, reading in groups of words than individual ones. Eventually it will be possible to read entire lines at a time. This can very quickly lead to an increase in reading speeds.
The second major technique I found was stopping self vocalisation. This means silencing the voice inside your head that allows you to “hear” the word. An alternative to completely silencing the voice is to replace it with a count or chant of some kind. My favourite is to count in numbers, often to ten then back to one again.
Thirdly, do not re-read words. When I used to read I would re-read words effectively making me re-read entire sentences which is not efficient and slows down your reading speed. Just force yourself to continue reading. You may lose some comprehension but usually the information will be repeated again in the text. Once you start noticing how often you do this, it will surprise you.
My opinion as a writer, student and teacher is that this is a vital skill to learn but it does need a lot of practice and patience. But the rewards will be big in the long-term. Practice as often as you can, any comments please put them below or send me a message.