Speed reading can be a really effective way to quickly absorb high level information when you don’t have the luxury of time. It’s a skill that is easy to develop and can give you many more options if you’re looking for new ways to deal with data under time pressure. When you’re speed reading, rather than looking at each individual word you are instead focusing on phrases or sentences on a page. Most of us read at a pace of about 250 words per minute but if you’re able to develop speed reading skills then you could double this.
When is speed reading a good idea?
It’s a very effective tool if you need to absorb information from a document, such as the conclusions presented or the basic arguments. When we speed read we tend to take in less information so this may not always be an appropriate technique. For example, if you have a technically complex document that you need to absorb and understand then this may simply be something that you need to take more time over. If you’re looking to memorise something then speed reading won’t work for this either as studies have found that you would need to be reading at 100 words per minute or less in order to achieve this. However, for a swift understanding of the essentials speed reading is ideal.
How do you speed read?
Speed reading is switching from essentially pronouncing every single word in your head to skimming the lines on the page. You focus on blocks of words instead of individual words and expand your gaze so that you’re looking at paragraphs as a whole as opposed to each individual word or sentence. There are three methods that can come in useful when you’re looking to improve speed reading skills:
- The Pointer Method. Use your finger and sweep it quickly along the page as you read. You can also use a bookmark or card and move it down line by line.
- The Tracker-and-Pacer Method. Take a pen with the lid still on and underline each line on the page, allowing your eyes to sweep across the paragraph with the pen. Spend no more than a second on each line.
- This approach involves moving your eyes down the centre of the page and simply focusing on key words and phrases, names and numbers as you go.
It’s a good idea to start practicing your speed reading with something easy, such as a novel, so that you can improve your skills without getting frustrated. Make sure there are no distractions and give yourself time and space to improve. Especially if you’re using the skimming method it can be key to make sure you know what you want from the text you’re going to read before you start reading it.
Speed reading is a great skill that can make it much easier to identify information and reduce the amount of time that you spend on individual documents. It’s simple to learn and very effective too.
Find out more by booking onto our Speed Reading & Information Management Training Course…