I’m in the process of teaching myself how to speed read. The idea that I’ll be able to take on-board information up to around 5 times quicker, appeals. At the start of my quest, I was clocking from around 215 words per minute, which is about average. In a fairly short time-frame, I’ve now upped this, and am now able to read 600+ words per minute in short bursts. The world record is a staggering 4700 words per minute and whilst I’m not aiming to get anywhere close to those break-neck speeds, if I can sustain an increased pace of reading whilst maintaining a fair comprehension of what I’m reading, I’ll be happy.
Shush out, shush in.
There are a few basic principals, the first of which is all about quietening you inner voice. A technique known subvocalisation. We’re conditioned to maintaining a narrative in our heads. Our inner voice can only go as fast as we can talk, or read out loud. The trick is to turn this voice off. It also helps massively if you shush the world around you. A good set of sound cancelling headphones might help, perhaps with a trickle of non invasive ambient music – something like The Orb might do the trick.
Once you’ve quietened the inner voice, you can charge through words a lot quicker – and still comprehend everything the words mean, (with a little practice).
Motorway sign reading
When you see a sign on a motorway you know what it’s said very quickly. The same applies to flash cards. You’re mind can interpret words extremely quickly. Couple this with another principal of being more economical with your eye movements -you don’t need to look directly at every single word to be able to read it. Move your eyes between clusters of words instead. Concentrating on the center of the page is another technique here – where you can see most of the whole line without moving your eyes across the whole line. Applying this; using your whole field of ‘focal sweet spot’, it’s possible to digest and comprehend more words in less time.
Like with a lot of things, training is very much at the heart of getting good at this. It doesn’t feel quite as comfortable when you start and you have to concentrate a lot more – it’s harder work. All the experts tend to say that over time, it will become more natural.
My line of work typically involves a fair bit of reading. Documents and guides, marketing copy, articles and emails all arrive on my desk with ‘to read’ status on a frequent basis. On top of this, I love reading for pleasure – more so for the content, rather than the act of, so the idea of being able to read three times as much or three times faster, would be of great benefit.
If you’re interested in giving it a go, there’s some great training and information resources out there offering (in most cases) free training and tools to help you on your way, but first, maybe start by timing your words per minutes, with this tester..
..then check out these sites..
If you are giving it a go – good luck! Let me know how you get on in the comments!