Technology changes all the time, but I still have the need to do some things the “old-school” way.
Reading is one of them. Yes, there are audio books, but I can not concentrate when I listen to audiobooks, I find myself drifting away with my thoughts or maybe one thing that was said starts a series of thoughts within my mind and before I know it, I haven’t listened to the last ten minutes of the book. Worse is when I fall asleep listening to the book, not good to do that while driving.
So I read books, blog posts, emails, company memos and so on, every day.
I have seen some blog posts where the writer explains that they read fairly large books in one week. I can read four to five books per month on average, but to do so, some of these books are short business books of around 200-250 pages. I am reading “The Count of Monte Cristo” right now and it must be close to 1000 pages and will take me a couple months to finish.
So I looked into speed reading. Could I learn some techniques to speed up my reading, while retaining my comprehension of what I just read?
Do you remember the commercials for the Evelyn Wood Speedreading course, where people would literally run their fingers down a page and read it in around one second?
I have been implementing some of these techiniques and they do work, but not to the extent of those commercials, at least not for me.
The average person reads about 200-250 words per minute with about 60% comprehension. If someone were to ask you a question about what you just read, you would have about a 40% chance you couldn’t answer it. Seems like a waste of a lot of time to me.
Fast readers can read 800 or more words per minute with 80-90% comprehension. That is amazing to me.
There is a website where you can copy/paste a selection of text and then have it play back to you one word at a time at different speeds. Just moving the needle to 300 words per minute makes you think you’re at an auction house. LINK
By increasing my rate to about 300-400 words per minute with 80-85% comprehension I could get a lot more read with much better understanding.
1. Your eyes have a lot to do with how fast you read.Try and read some text and see how often your eyes backtrack and you reread or glance at text you’ve already read. This slows down your reading immensely.
2. How many times have you read a passage and started day dreaming, either about what you just read or something else that is on your mind? If you’re like me, this happens quite often. I used to read a page and frequently have no recollection about what I just read.
TECHNIQUES TO FIX THESE ISSUES
1. Follow the Finger – Keep your index finger on the page you’re reading and follow along with your eyes. This will keep you focused and prevent your from backtracking.
2. Learn to Move Your Finger at a Faster Pace – Use the LINK here to see how fast you currently read and get a feel for how fast you need to read to double that (say 200-400 words per minute). Once you know how fast a pace is needed for 400 words per minute, move your finger at that rate. It will be challenging at first so you may need to move towards that rate gradually. 400 words per minute is achievable.
3. Forget Reading the First and Last Few Words on a Line – Depending on the font size, a given line in a book may have ten to fifteen words on it. By eliminating four to six of those words you have effectively increased your reading speed by 25-40%. When you read the rest of the words your mind will naturally fill in the missing words so that you understand it. Your peripheral vision will also grab some of these words and allow you to see them.
4. Establish Your Baseline and Set a Goal – Use the LINK to find where you’re at right now and aim to double this number. Work on it daily and retest yourself every 30 days until you have achieved your goal.
5. Scan the Book Chapters, Headings and Sub-Headings – These give good clues into what you’re about to read. By knowing in advance what you will be reading/learning it will make understanding it easier. Some non-fiction books have summaries at the end of chapters. If so, I like to slow down a bit when reading these so I fully understand what I just read.
If you’re like me, even with today’s technology you have to do a lot of reading. Time is precious so learning to read faster adds more to your productivity for the day. Use the techniques above to double your reading rate and increase your retention. I am very happy with the improvements I have made, especially with the comprehension levels. Why bother reading if you’re going to forget almost half of what you read? I hope you find this valuable and can implement it into your own life.