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On average, a person reads around 250 words per minute, but if that same person learns the art of speed reading, then the amount of words read per minute can be doubled. However, the question we have to ask is why go to the trouble of learning how to read more quickly? Well, firstly, one benefit is that you will be able to learn more as you will increase your knowledge-base, and will be able to read more material in the same amount of time.
Secondly, you will be able to read much more material and extensively so. We read all of the time, so being able to maximize the time that you do spend reading is a good thing as this will give extra hours in the day for other favored activities. Therefore, the next question is “how do you go about learning this new skill?”
Here are a few tips that you can learn in order to improve your speed reading.
The environment is extremely important, as where you choose to read will have an effect upon your reading style. Ideally, your chosen environment should have very little or no distractions, and you should read in a silent atmosphere – so this means no music, turning your phone off, and simply concentrating on the text that is in front of you. Ultimately, you need to be comfortable, so make sure that you are sitting upright and so you can read the book clearly. Slouching is not recommended, as this will prompt the body into a resting state and you need to stay alert and fully concentrated on the text.
Learn How to “Skim the Text”.
One of the most basic methods to learn is skimming the text. This is when the text is scanned in order to find the meaning and the most relevant information. Skimming also allows you to gain an idea of what the book is about on its first read through. Skim reading is particularly of a beneficial use especially when reading an academic text or nonfiction book, and when you need to gather important information quickly.
Guide Your Focus by Skimming Across Sentences with Your Finger
To be able to speed read effectively, you need to train your eye in order to do so, and in essence, to guide the eye over the text. One highly applicable way to do so is by using the finger on the actual text. Using your finger helps to keep you focussed on the words and by moving your finger quickly over the words, and this in turn will increase your reading speed.
While Reading, Turn of the “Inner Dialogue”
What is also suggested as you learn to speed read is to ‘turn off’ your sub-vocalisation, that inner voice that speaks to you as you read, the reason being is that it slows you down. By learning to not hear what you read, you can dramatically increase your reading speed. Hearing the words as well as seeing them is not vitally important; however, this can be very difficult to achieve, so how do you go about switching off your inner voice?
The golden rule is mainly practice, and lots of it. One way is by trying to picture the word to increase your reading speed, as quickening the pace will lessen the hearing of words in your head; a fact of the matter is that the quicker you read the harder it is to hear the words, so over time – and with practice – you will no longer hear the words as you read.
Focus Completely to Comprehend What You’re Reading
When speed reading, you still need to comprehend and retain what is being read. If you use your finger to guide your eyes as you increase the speed of your reading, you can, in turn, help to increase your comprehension as you are completely focused and absorbed in the text. Also, you are more able to take in knowledge and are better equipped to understand what is being read.
Pay Particular Attention to Bolds and Italics
A really good tip to help you when speed reading is to pay attention towards words that are in bold or italics, as they are usually good indicators of the main point of the text is, and therefore, what is of an importance. Any graphics or images stated in the text can also help increase your speed of reading as they will give further information and data to consider.
Read in a Linear, ‘Straight Forward’ Fashion
When speed reading, it is also important to read the entire text, and not to go back over what you have read earlier, but rather read in a linear manner; thus, to get a grasp of the main ideas and concepts situated in the body of the text and make a mental note of them as you go. However, while reading, if you begin to lose concentration and begin to feel tired you should stop, take a break and then carry on from where you left off – you can then begin afresh.
Practice, Practice and More Practice!
Speed reading ultimately comes down to practice and more practice, using those skills already mentioned. You already have the skills to read; after all, you have been doing it for many years. However, speed reading is about relearning how to read. You need to teach yourself this entirely new skill, and it will take time; but as already mentioned, with patience and time, you will be able to read more quickly and efficiently.