Speed reading is the capacity of a reader to recognize and absorb phrases or sentences simultaneously rather than reading individual words.
Speed and comprehension go hand in hand. How well you comprehend influences your reading speed and vice versa. It’s your ability to understand context clues to get the author’s main idea without understanding the meaning of a particular word and subvocalizing everything you read.
Subvocalizing is an excellent approach for beginner readers, but it’s time to upgrade your reading skills if you want to learn more knowledge in many fields of interest.
The point of speed reading is to accelerate your learning skills. It’s not about reading faster and finishing more books than an average person. It’s about using your focus and comprehension to skim through texts.
Improving your soft skills and boosting your career is just a couple of reasons why you should learn speed reading. Speed reading doesn’t come naturally. So, how to increase reading speed and comprehension? Patience, practice, and the right tools and mindset.
1. Use a timer
Recording your reading time is a good exercise if you want to become a speed reader. But, first, you have to take note of your average words per minute. You can use online programs like ReadingSoft and WordstoPages for this exercise.
The goal is to progress from your current reading speed. You can practice this 2-3x a week or as much as possible until you reach your desired objective.
2. Use peripheral vision
Your peripheral vision allows you to see things without looking at them directly. Studies show that you can train your brain to recognize more words without reading everything using your peripheral vision.
The use of your peripheral vision goes hand-in-hand with word-chunking and is part of visual reading.
Visual reading is when you imagine what you’re reading. In parallel, visual reading is speed reading. Speed readers often don’t fixate on the unimportant words in a paragraph. Instead, they only consume words that have value.
3. Stop your inner monologue
Your inner monologue is also called subvocalizing. It’s the voice you hear in your brain when you read. Although there’s no problem with subvocalizing, it’s just time-consuming. Most adults can read about 250 words per minute. But you must forget about this habit if you want to increase your speed reading skills.
Here’s how you can do it. Guide your eyes by using your fingers or a pen to focus only on what you’re reading. You may also distract yourself with music. It’ll reduce your stress, and the next thing you know, you’ve been reading for hours. Although humming and silent counting takes a lot of practice, it helps with speed reading.
4. Do not reread the words on the page
If you notice, your eyes would unintentionally jump and flutter around the page—going back and forth over the words you’ve read. It’s a tricky habit to brush off, but it’s possible to eliminate it.
You can use a bookmark or your finger to trace the line you’re reading. But if you’re reading on a computer, you may use your mouse cursor. It’ll help your eyes to focus only on the parts you’re reading. But if you come across an unfamiliar word, keep reading and use context clues because it’s usually explained in the following sentence in detail.
5. Work on improving your vocabulary
There are hundreds of thousands of words in the dictionary. But unfortunately, there is no exact number of them because languages are ever-expanding. So, coming across foreign words is unavoidable.
If you stumble upon an unfamiliar word, there’s no need to stop reading. Instead, try to understand the context by using your comprehension skills and context clues.
Context clues are hints in the form of synonyms, antonyms, word-structure clues, comparison, and contrast. You’ll often find them before and or after the sentence containing the complicated word. Some writers also explain it in another paragraph.
You can increase your vocabulary by reading more, and in doing so, you develop your comprehension. The more you understand what you read, the better you are at retaining information, and it’ll always be in your mind when needed.
6. Use a marker
While it’s normal for the eyes to wander around different lines on the page you’re reading, it delays your reading speed. To break this tendency, use a bookmark or a folded piece of paper to allow your eyes to focus on the line you’re reading.
7. Set a goal
Setting a goal allows you to focus on learning new habits and skills. It’ll help you measure your small and big wins and assess what needs more attention.
You can give yourself a certain number of pages to read each day within a specific timeframe. Be forgiving when you’re starting because it might get frustrating. Start with a few pages per 10 minutes, and you can increase the number of pages as you improve.
Check your words per minute to an online program mentioned above if you notice any progress.
8. Chunk words
Word-chunking or chunking is grouping several words to minimize your reading time and eye fixation. You may use your peripheral vision to cluster the words that make sense.
To start, you can group words of three. Use a pen to point the word in the middle and visualize what you’re reading—then, things will begin to make sense.
It’s much easier and faster to visualize what you’re reading than reading per word. It seems unusual at first, but reading visually improves memory, reading speed, and comprehension. Of course, you can always increase the speed and the number of words in the group as you progress.
9. Use different methods
Here are three speed reading methods you can try if you want to enhance your reading speed.
The Tracker-and-Pacer Method
The tracker-and-pacer method uses a car, pen, or a finger that forces you to increase your reading speed and avoid eye fixation. It’s a technique to focus on your brain to read fast.
The Scanning or Previewing Method
Scanning and previewing are almost similar. However, the difference is that scanning is a method of looking through a text to find specific information. It’s mostly done for research and study purposes to find facts. It allows you to go through the lines of the page until you find exact details.
In contrast, previewing is reading rapidly to get an overview of the topic, such as websites and magazines.
Both of these techniques work together. When you’re looking for a piece of exact information on a topic, in this case, a newspaper, you skim the headlines and then scan the lines of the article for the facts you want to know.
The Pointer Method
The pointer method is when you use your finger, bookmark, or mouse cursor to help you focus on the line you’re reading. Although it seems like a waste of energy, your brain will get used to it with practice. Then you won’t need to do this system anymore.
10. Continue reading
Don’t stop reading once you’ve achieved your reading goals because once you discontinue a habit, you’ll eventually lose it. Reading doesn’t only give you new learning abilities to enhance your soft skills, but it also keeps you mentally healthy.
Some ways to boost reading speed may seem uncomfortable, overwhelming, and may feel like you’re learning how to read again. It helps to stay consistent. Try to set a specific time in your schedule for reading so it won’t feel like a task.
Speed reading is one of the best ways to learn more things in many fields of interest if you have an appetite for knowledge. It allows you to consume and retain valuable information you might need in different situations, whether personal or professional development.
Try these soft skill courses to become a speed reader to win success in life.