How to Speed Read

Speed-reading is an invaluable way of soaking up important information quickly and efficiently. When you need to read a mountain of material fast, there are several techniques at hand to help you cut down your reading time. Speed-reading is a skill that is much in demand in today’s information-flooded age.

Know What You Want

The most important requirement is to decide what information you need to get from the document before you start to read it. If you need an overview, or the basic facts, you can read faster than if you need to understand and retain minute details.

Read Blocks Of Words

Most of us learn to read letter-by-letter, then word-by-word, but fewer of us take the next step and train ourselves to read blocks of words at a time. To speed-read you need to increase the number of words you can read in each block.

Avoid Regressing

Reading never progresses smoothly from left to right. Our eyes constantly flick back to a word or block the words to check meanings. While this is normal, excessive regressing is inefficient and has been shown to reduce comprehension as well as speed. It is also much more tiring for the eyes. Consciously reduce how much your eyes regresses. This can be achieved initially by smoothly running a piece of paper line-by-line down the page, above the line of print as you read. Or, you can run your finger down the page faster than you would normally read and try to keep up with it.

Increase Your Eye Span

Simply holding the text slightly further away from you can dramatically increase your eye span.

Read Key Words

If you keep fixating on words like “the” or “and,” then you need to concentrate on the key words of the sentence instead. Your brain should be able to recognize the filler words without fixating on them, leaving more time for focusing on the key words.

Read Silently

You may not be aware that you were doing it, but many people actually sound the words out in their throat or say them mentally. This is called “sub-vocalization” and it slows down reading considerably. Instead you should think the words, rather than speak or hear them. If you must sub-vocalize, do it just with the key words.

Chris Walker