Speed reading techniques are some methods and exercises that are aimed to increase a person’s average reading speed. There are many speed reading methods available that one can be trained to.
In this page, we will talk about the basics of speed reading and what to expect from a speed reading program.
Traditional Reading: Obsolete and Slow
From a very young age, we learn how to read. Speed reading courses claim that the way we’ve been taught to read is obsolete and restricts the average reading speed significantly.
Because so many years we used to read as we’ve been taught from school, it’s difficult to change now our reading habits.
If we had learned to read with a speed reading technique, then we could have an average reading speed of 2000 words per minute (wpm), which is very fast. You could finish a whole book in a matter of hours.
But, this doesn’t mean that now you cannot increase your reading speed. You may not reach an average speed of 2000 words per minute, but you can double or triple your current speed.
As you may assume this technique requires practice, lots of practice and patience.
Don’t think that following some online courses will make you read fast in just one week. One week is just the time you need to inform yourself about the speed reading techniques.
A lot more time is needed for these techniques to become skills and take a get into your procedural long-term memory. So do not expect to read 1000 words per minute in just 1 or 2 weeks.
The Average Reading Speed
The average reading speed is 150-200 wpm. Attending a speed reading course may double or triple your reading speed fast but if you want to achieve higher speeds you need a lot more time for your eyes and mind to get used.
Another factor to think is that someone’s reading speed is not stable throughout the day. On some hours, the performance can be higher or lower than the average.
Reading speed depends on many factors such as fatigue, quality of sleep, diet, mood and others. So, do not get disappointed if today your reading speed is lower than it was yesterday.
High Reading Speed in Expense of Comprehension
A crucial thing you should know about speed reading is that speed is conversely analogical to comprehension.
It is sensible if you think about it. You cannot read 2500 wpm and perfectly understand what you read. This fact is presented in the following figure.
The slower your reading speed is, the more time your mind has to think consciously and evaluate the material.
Theory says that the human mind can read subconsciously everything at an extremely high speed. There have been made many experiments on this theory, and the results showed that it is likely to be true.
Your mind can read a text at extremely high speeds, but you are unaware of it. If you can bring the passage somehow in your conscious mind, then it will be useful to you. Unfortunately, it is not likely to be possible.
Speed Reading Course Benefits
Speed reading consists of many eye-brain exercises. Your eyes must be trained to receive information faster. It is needed to identify words faster than you do now.
I forgot to tell you that when you read you don’t see all the letters of a word, but just the first and last letter. So looking at a word you see it as a whole and you do not read the letters.
Although you understand typos immediately, this has to do with the stored image of the word in your mind. You recognize that something is different from the usual, and then you detect the typo.
Another aim of speed reading techniques is to stop your inner voice. While we read, we hear inside our heads a voice that rehearses the text. So reading is like listening to someone speaking the text we read.
Many speed reading courses will help you stop rehearsing while reading. It is one of the most important goals of speed reading courses. It’s the most speed limiting factor you need to eliminate.
You will learn to see multiple words at a time than just one word. Now your eyes read a word and stop, and then they move to the next word and so on.
While you practice with speed reading your eyes may see three or four words at a time and they do not stop. They constantly move, feeding your mind with information in a steady fast flow.
That is difficult in the beginning but if you insist your mind will be forced to process the meanings of whole sentences instantly as it does now with words. So in the same amount of time that you read a word now, you will read an entire sentence.
As this skill improves you may be able to read two or three lines at a time.
Practicing with speed reading will strengthen your eye muscles, which is a requirement to reach very high reading speeds. If your eyes muscles are weak, you will get tired very quickly when you try speed reading techniques.
Some eye exercises are essential before training in high reading speeds. All the speed reading techniques need eye preparation with special eye exercises.
Speed reading programs make this easy as, before each session, there is a standard process you follow, to ensure that you won’t have an eye strain or something.
Your vision field will expand. As you learn to focus on multiple lines of sentences, your view does not focus to a small spot but the big picture. You will not see more than you see now, just be more conscious of what you see.
Speed Reading Disadvantages
In my opinion, the greatest disadvantage of speed reading techniques is that require lots of patience and discipline. You need to remember to use a speed reading technique every time you read something.
I tried many times and for a long time to keep up with speed reading but trust me it’s tough to apply it regularly.
Another disadvantage as you start your training, and you try to read at a higher speed, your comprehension lowers. So, if something you want to read is critical, you must slow down to understand it thoroughly.
As nowadays you don’t spend your time to read little stories, your training with speed reading techniques may be limited. It depends on your will, and if your will is strong, then you can overcome this obstacle.
As I mentioned earlier, your eyes are not used to read at such high speeds. They also need time. You may feel tired when you try any speed reading technique and an urgent need to stop reading immediately.
It has to do with the fatigue that is added up to your eyeballs because of your untrained eye muscles. If you are patient, your eye muscles will strengthen, and you will not get tired so quickly.
This inner voice I told you before… It does not shut up! It is very difficult not to hear this voice. In the beginning, you just ignore it, but after a while, you realize that you still listen to it. It’s indeed the most difficult part of speed reading.
Two Easy Speed Reading Techniques
Now I will give you some tips on speed reading that I use when I want to read something fast.
As you read, try to see between the words instead of reading every word. You double your reading speed that way.
It is easy without sacrificing too much comprehension. Check the following example:
When you read a text, focus your attention on the upper part of the words. You can imagine a mental line just on top of the sentences.
Follow this line without stops. Do not focus attention on words. Just follow the line. Check the following example:
I use this tip mostly as I find it easier and faster. Try them both and you will understand which one is better for you.
Speed reading is indeed a mind power technique requiring considerable amounts of effort and patience. I believe that it is a worthy mind expanding technique that needs decisiveness.
Think that if you finally overcome all the difficulties you will enjoy so much knowledge; your mind will expand significantly.