I don’t like to read. To be honest with you, if I could live my life with TV, movies, and audio books, I would have no complaints. However, working at a law firm, I have to read dozens of briefs, contracts, and the occasional manual for the copy machine that breaks down every day. I had to make my life easier, so I learned to speed read. Speed reading tests show that speed readers on average read around 1,500 words per minute. Compare that to the average adult who only reads 300 words per minute. That’s five times the amount!
And don’t be fooled as there’s a lot more to speed reading than just reading faster. Keep reading and you will learn about the other benefits that come with it.
Why Should I Learn How To Speed Read?
Focus Better – Most of us are capable of reading at least 600 words per minute, but the average person only reads around 300 words per minute. The main reasons there is such a huge gap is that we are not taught how to read efficiently when we are children, and we lack focus. A lot of times our minds wander off or we get distracted by a thought while reading. Learning how to speed read will help you build focus.
Improved Memory – Our brain is similar to muscles in that we can train it to perform better. Speed reading challenges your brain to retain information quicker, which in turn helps improves your memory.
Save Time – Whether you are reading for work or pleasure, you can save a lot of time by reading faster. One complaint people have about reading is that it’s time consuming. When you are able to read as fast as 1000 words per minute, that argument can be thrown out the door.
More Self-Confidence – Have you ever been intimidated by having to read a book the size of a dictionary? When you are able to speed read, you will be more confident than ever to finish reading any book.
Tips On Speed Reading
Here are a few tips to get you started on speed reading. Focus on doing them one at a time instead of all at once. After you feel comfortable enough doing it several times, then try moving on to the next one.
Don’t subvocalize by counting – We were taught as kids to read aloud and pronounce every single word that we see. This causes us to read slower because we are basically reading at the same speed as our voice. And most of us are still reading this same way now. Even though you aren’t saying it aloud, you might be opening your mouth silently while reading the words.
To change this, first try reading faster than your mouth can move or the voice in your head can speak. Another approach is to repeatedly say “1-2-3-4” as you are reading the text. This helps train you to stop reading with your larynx and mouth and start reading with your eyes only.
Don’t backtrack – Backtracking is when you read a word, then read a few more words after, but then shift your eyes back to the first word again. This usually happens unconsciously, but it can set your reading time back a long ways.
Instead, use your index finger to pace your eyes while reading. Underline the words with your finger at a faster pace than your normal reading speed. Force your eyes not to backtrack, and only focus on the text in front of your finger. If you pass a word without reading it, just keep going forward.
Use peripheral vision – Our brains are actually capable of reading multiple words at a time. But in order to do that, we have to develop our peripheral vision while reading.
To do that, try reading newspapers. The articles are usually broken down in columns and can fit a lot of words within a small space. Instead of reading it word for word, read line by line. This will make you feel uncomfortable at first, but you should improve your peripheral reading as you practice more and more.
Try testing yourself to see how many words per minute you can read. All you need is:
- Novel or book
- Count the average words per page
To get a count of average words per page:
1. Count the words of 10 lines, add them together, and divide that number by 10. That will be the average number of words per line.
2. Count the number of lines on 5 separate pages, add them all together, and divide that number by 5. That will be the average number of lines per page.
3. Multiply the two totals together and you have the average number of words per page!
Now that you’re set, read 10 pages and time yourself using a stopwatch. To determine your reading speed in words per minute (wpm), divide the number of words read (wr) by the time (t) it took you to finish. wpm = wr / t
If you aren’t happy with your results, practice using the tips mentioned here and then test yourself again. You should see a slight improvement as long as you continue reading and practicing.
Speed Reading Lessons
To learn more about speed reading, why not take a course taught by one of the fastest readers in the world? Howard Berg, who has been documented by the Guinness Book Of World Records to read 80 pages a minute, shares his secrets so you increase your reading speed by 100% or more. Don’t expect to beat his record, but you can almost guarantee you will break your own record after taking his class.