Speed Reading

Video Transcript

Learn how speed reading can save you time, and improve your understanding of what you read.

How much do you read every day?

You might have dozens of emails to get through, project proposals to consider, or trade publications to look at. Not to mention the magazines, books, newspapers, and websites you read for your own enjoyment.

Many of us spend a good portion of our time reading something. But despite this, we don't often think about improving our reading skills. Becoming a better reader means we can take in information faster, and retain more of it.

The first step to reading more effectively is to break your poor reading habits. For instance, many people focus on each word. But this can cause you to miss the overall message.

Instead, try chunking words together. You can practice this by expanding the number of words you read at a time. To do this, try to position the text a little further away from your eyes. Then, instead of reading a single word at a time, read four or five.

Another bad reading habit is sub-vocalization. This is when you “speak” each word in your head as you read. This takes more time than is necessary, because your brain can understand a word more quickly than you can say it. To address this, practice stifling that voice in your head by reading larger chunks of words.

Regression is another bad habit. This is when you go back over words to make sure you read them correctly. Skipping back like this causes you to lose the flow of what you're reading, and takes up valuable time.

To overcome this, don't allow yourself to re-read material. Run a pointer, such as a pen or your finger, along the line as you go. Your eyes will follow it, and will keep moving along.

Many people find it difficult to concentrate when they read. But often they've got the TV or the radio on, or they're looking at an email while they're on the phone. It's important to keep distractions to a minimum. Speed reading needs to be done in a quiet, focused environment.

Keep in mind that learning to read faster and more effectively takes time. So, it's important to practice as much as possible.

Start with something easy, like an entertaining article or a favorite novel. Use a pointer to increase your speed, and gradually move it across the page faster and faster. Your eyes and your brain will want to keep up. This is an easy way to increase your reading speed.

You can find out more about improving your reading skills in the article that accompanies this video.

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Comments (29)
  • Over a month ago Midgie wrote
    Hi Sirajuddin,
    Welcome to the Club! Speed reading, like any other skill, does require practice before becoming proficient. For me, at first it feels awkward and slow, yet with time and practice, much easier.

    Hope to see you over in the Forums sharing ideas and asking any questions. We are here to help so let us know if there is anything you want to get input and ideas for.

    Midgie
    Mind Tools Team
  • Over a month ago Sirajuddin wrote
    Hi, Everyone here is very valuable and important information about reading faster and it needs practice. Thanks.
  • Over a month ago Midgie wrote
    Hi PalomaG2,
    Welcome to the club.

    Speed reading is indeed a practiced skill, and the more you practice, the easier it gets!

    I believe it is a good idea to practice speed reading in your first language, Spanish, before trying in English. That way, you will develop the skill / habit and then transfer it over to when you read in another language!

    Good luck and please keep us posted on how things go.

    If there is anything you are looking for or wanting help with, just let us know and we'll be glad to help.
    Midgie
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