Speed Reading helps you to read and
understand text more quickly. It is an essential skill in any environment where
you have to master large volumes of information quickly, as is the norm in fast-moving
professional environments. And it's a key technique to learn if you suffer from
The Key Insight
The most important trick about speed reading is to know what
information you want from a document before you start reading it: if you only
want an outline of the issue that the document discusses, then you can skim the
document quickly and extract only the essential facts. If you need to
understand the real detail of the document, then you need to read it slowly
enough to understand it fully.
You will get the greatest time savings from speed reading by
learning to skim excessively detailed
Even when you know how to ignore irrelevant detail, there are
other technical improvements you can make to your reading style which will
increase your reading speed.
Most people learn to read the way young children read – either
letter-by-letter, or word-by-word.
As an adult, this is probably not the way you read now – think
about how your eye muscles are moving as you read this. You will probably find
that you are fixing your eyes on one block of words then moving your eyes to
the next block of words, and so on. You are reading blocks of words at a time,
not individual words one-by-one. You may also notice that you do not always go from
one block to the next: sometimes you may move back to a previous block if you
are unsure about something.
A skilled reader will read many words in each block. He or she
will only dwell on each block for an
instant, and will then move on. Only rarely will the reader's eyes
skip back to a previous block of words. This reduces the amount of work that
the reader's eyes have to do. It also increases the volume of information that
can be examined in a period of time.
A poor reader will become bogged down, spending a lot of time
reading small blocks of words. He
or she will skip back often, losing the flow and structure of the
text and overall understanding of the subject. This irregular eye movement
makes reading tiring. Poor readers tend to dislike reading, and may find it
harder to concentrate and understand written information.
How to Use the Tool
Speed reading aims to improve reading skills by:
_ Increasing the number of words read in
_ Reducing the length of time spent reading
each block, and
_ Reducing the number of times your eyes
skip back to a previous sentence.
These are explained below.
Increasing the number of words
in each block:
This needs a conscious effort. Try to expand the number of words
that you read at a time: With practice, you'll find you read faster. You may
also find that you can increase the number of words in each block by holding
the text a little further from your eyes. The more words you can read in each
block, the faster you will read!
Reducing fixation time:
The minimum length of time needed to read each block is probably
only a quarter of a second. By
pushing yourself to reduce the time you take, you will get better
at picking up information quickly.
Again, this is a matter of practice and confidence.
Reducing skip back:
To reduce the number of times that your eyes skip back to a
previous sentence, run a pointer along the line as you read. This could be a
finger, or a pen or pencil. Your eyes will follow the tip of your pointer,
smoothing the flow of your reading. The speed at which you read using this method
will largely depend on the speed at which you move the pointer.
You will be able to increase your reading speed a certain amount
on your own by applying speed reading techniques.
What you don't get out of self-study is the use of specialist
reading machines and the confidence gained from successful speed-reading – this
is where a good one-day course can revolutionize your reading skills.
By speed reading you can read information more quickly. You may
also get a better understanding of it as you will hold more of it in short term
To improve the speed of your reading, read more words in each
block and reduce the length of time spent reading each block. Use a pointer to
smooth the way your eyes move and reduce skipback.