Think about how much reading we all do everyday. Be it reading the paper to catch up on news, browsing the countless emails from colleagues, books, reports, proposals, and letters that make up an average day. Given the time that reading takes in our daily lives, imagine reading as a skill that we can improve upon!
So Have you ever spent time thinking about how we READ?
When actually thinking about it, reading is quite a complex skill. Scientists believe:
• Each of our eyes lock onto a different letter at the same time, usually two characters apart
• Our brain then fuses these images together to form a word.
• This happens instantaneously! Many people read at an average rate of 250 words per minute.
This means that an average page in a book or document would take you 1-2 minutes to read. Imagine if you could double your rate to 500 words per minute. Reading fast is known by a direct term, simply known as speed reading.
Advantages of Speed Reading
There are some clear benefits to speed reading, some among them include:
• Sometimes needed in cases of an emergency document!
• Spend the time saved on other tasks, or take a few extra minutes to relax and de-stress.
• Better comprehend the overall structure of an argument. This leads to a "bigger picture" understanding.
The blue colored paragraph below is the test. Before you read it, make sure you have a stopwatch or phone with a timer function to hand. Count down 60 seconds before you start reading. Read as fast as possible, but read thoroughly - you will be asked questions about the text.
Ready, steady, GO!
How long did it take to read the passage?
How many words does the text have?
What is the real reading speed of per minute for the average person?
Experienced speed readers can read up to how many words per minute?
What is the term for reading out every word in your head?
If you answered all of them correctly, congratulations! You are an experienced speed reader. But if you didn’t, don’t worry here are some tips to improve yourself.
Improving Your Speed Reading
Get rid of subvocalization:
Try to rid yourself of the habit to pronounce each word in your head as you read it. As you "hear" the word being spoken in your mind – it takes much more time
Sub-vocalization limits your speed capacity (reading at the same pace as talking is limited to only 250-350 words per minute)
Turn off the voice in your head and practice "not speaking." Practice until bad habit is erased.
When you concentrate on separate words you often miss the overall concept of what's being said
Practice expanding the number of words that you read at a time. Try holding the text a little further from your eyes to to increase the number of words you read in a single fixation
The more words you can read in each block, the faster you'll read!
Reading should be done in an environment where external distractions are kept to a minimum –
Pay attention to "internal distractions" as well – heated discussion, what to eat later..
Reduce distractions and to enhance your ability to process information
Know How and When to Use It!
As with any activity, take baby steps - choose easy material to start with
Speed read appropriately, avoid speed reading when reviewing legal documents, reports, presentations, etc.
Use a pointing device to push your reading speed. Using your fingers to guide the text “forces” your eyes to keep up the reading speed.
Use the material’s structure to skim information, layout, bolded words or headings
Benchmark your speed as you practice. Just like athletes, set goals and improve as you practice.
Many people read at an average rate of 250 words per minute. This means that an average page in a book or document would take you 1-2 minutes to read. Imagine if could double it to 500 words per minute.