Reading is essential in the journey for self-improvement and so having the ability to optimise the time spent churning out books is a pretty important skill to have. Now most us have the ability to read about 200 to 300 words per minute and the best of us can read about 400 words with about 1% of the human population being able to read in excess of 400 words. The process most of us go through when reading involves following along with our fingers and internalising the words by reading along in our head word by word.
Being able to speed read will take your reading ability to whole new level. Most people read in a very ineffective manner and that is by using our head voice, why do we do this? i’m not sure why we have learnt to do this, but what i do know is that when we consider time and comprehension it’s not an efficient method. Understanding how the human visual system works can help eliminate the inefficiencies we have developed and learning to speed read will require us to get rid of the voice in our head.
To do this, the first thing you need to do when learning to speed read is to read with just your eyes and to not use the voice in your head. This may take some time to get used to and a fair bit of practice. At first you will constantly want to fight against it and go with your habitual instincts, however stick it through and you will get there eventually; it’s all about breaking that habit of using the voice in your head.
The reason why speed reading is such an effective method is that our ability for comprehension is much greater then what we can speak, so when practicing do not restrict your reading speed to your speaking speed.
When practicing eliminating the voice i have 4 main tips that you will need to work on these are:
1. Try to eliminate regression and re-reading. When reading we naturally incur an element of rereading, this time spent rereading can take up to 25-30% of the time we spend reading, rereading what we have already just read.
2. Following along the line with a with pen or paper is helpful as long as you have eliminated the voice, however try to keep the line to a maximum of 1 second.
3. Keep persisting, and keep a steady pace of no more then 1 second per line, you may find that you aren’t comprehending anything, however you are training your perceptual reflexes which will get better with practice as they adjust to the speed. Once you’ve improved you can even try and reduce your speed to half a second per line.
4. Focus! this exercise will require a lot of attention and you need to maintain speed and technique to get the best results.
Another suggestion if you want to see that you are making improvements is before doing anything calculate your words-per-minute reading ability and then compare it after a little bit of practice and so on to make sure you are improving.
Lastly, this is something i’ve only just begun to do when reading and have found great results and my reading ability has improved drastically since. If you decide to use the information in this post get back to me and let me know how you’ve gone and if its helped you at all.
Have fun speed reading!