While the average reading speed is around 250 words per minute, speed readers can apparently do at least four time this rate (and without compromising on comprehension). The current world speed reader champ Anna Jones can read 4700 words per minute with a 67% compensation rate. Think about all the stuff you read in a week. How much time would you save if you could read twice as fast (or faster)?
<img src="/sites/default/files/speed-reading.jpg" alt="Speed Reading Saves Time" width="300" />
The Wikipedia defines speed reading as a “collection of reading methods which attempt to increase rates of reading without greatly reducing comprehension or retention”. Speed reading is a skill that can be learnt. I have personally benefits from doing a speed reading course (many years ago at school).
At a level high level, some speed reading concepts include:
<li>Learning to <b>read words in blocks</b> or groups rather than individually.
Background on how the eyes move – Eyes move and focus in <i>“a very rapid series of small jerks, or saccades … It is in the pauses of fixations between saccades that the reading is done. Research has shown that there is a mechanism in the brain which switches vision off 40 milliseconds before the eyes move and does not switch it completely back on again until 40 milliseconds after they have stopped moving. The amount you read at each fixation depends upon your span of perception or eye span”.</i> (Wainwright, p21)
Speed readers learn to make the most of this knowledge by maximizing what they absorb in each fixation.
For example – to read the following sentence word by word requires 9 fixations.
"The(1) quick(2) brown(3) fox(4) jumped(5) over(6) the(7) lazy(8) dog(9).”.
However, it is much quicker if you read it in blocks. For example, you could read the following in just 2 fixations.
“The quick brown fox”(1) “jumped over the lazy dog"(2)
<li>Using a pen to <b>guide your eyes</b>. This improves focus and keeps you moving through the pages.
<li><b>Teaching your eyes</b> to move quickly and effectively across the page in a way that helps the brain process the information. Remember the eye just sees images. It is the brain that does all the processing work.
<li>The use of <b>page scanning</b> to quickly find specific information.
<li>Learning to <b>overcome poor reading habits</b> like ‘regressing’, where the reader keeps regresses and going back over stuff they have already read.
<li>Development of a <b>larger vocabulary</b> to improve comprehension.
<li>The use of <b>page skimming</b> to gain an overview of what an article is about.
If your daily living involves a lot of reading, then adopting some speed reading concepts should save you time.
Have you done a speed reading course? What are your thoughts on its effectiveness? When do you use it?
<li><i>"I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia"</i>. (Woody Allen)
<li><i>"One of the most valuable things you can do in your adult life is to take a speed-reading course to learn how to accelerate the amount that you read and retain."</i> (Brian Tracey, Time Power)
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Buzan T., <i>“The Speed Reading Book”</i>, Educational Publishers, 2006.
Wainwright, G. <i>“Read Faster, Recall more”</i>, HowToBooks, UK, 2005