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Speed Reading Introduction

What is the best method to learn speed reading? Is there an easy and fast method to increase reading speed and comprehension? Yes and no! Yes, because fast reading techniques are easy to understand and almost every one can start immediately. There aren’t millions of different techniques out there. Most will come down to a handful of points, which are a combination of

  • changing bad habits and learning new ones
  • previewing the material
  • taking words in chunks
  • using reading patterns and
  • exercise ways to embody new knowledge for long term recalls.

The most common tips given through out the web are

  • stopping to subvocalise
  • stopping to go back in text
  • using peripheral vision to and to focus correctly
  • using a pointer to pick up pace
  • name or number scans for previewing
  • taking information reading a group of four or five words or whole sentences and not single words (getting the bigger picture)
  • using reading patterns in forms of S, L or waves
  • applying mind maps, visualisation techniques or affirmation to effectively embed new knowledge.

The video below will give you a quick visual introduction to speed reading.

To read fast simply means to follow proven techniques and steps. While the main concept can be applied instantly, other skills will need to be learnt and practiced. The brain will have to learn to take word groups, sentences and paragraphs in one go and not a single word. This skill may take some weeks to fully evolve. However using a pointer such as your finger will immediately speed up your reading and concentration.

The mind map below is to overview the most important steps I follow to improve my reading skills.

steps to boost reading skills

What are good articles about speed reading? Now, as you will have a general idea of what speed reading is you may want to read some even more profound introductions on the topic. Especially it is now time to get familiar with bad reading habits, average reading speeds and and how the brain reacts on increased speeds versus comprehension. I have compiled a list of basic articles in this post here.

Maybe you have asked yourself whether there are people who can read exceptional fast. Well, without repeating all the stats on who can read how fast, I suggest an article from Howard Berg, who is definitely a person with very advanced speed reading skills. One of his tips I really appreciate: Read text as a movie, in pictures or as a video as there will be much more processing of information and comprehension when visualising the information.

What are actually bad reading habits? I had and still have some of these habits, but it is important to understand how these habits will slow you down and how changing them can increase your reading speed almost immediately. Here is a quick list.

  • Word-by-word Reading
  • Sub-Vocalization (silent speech)Many eye movements, re-focusing
  • Re-reading, getting back in line, fear to miss information
  • Lack of attention, concentration, sleep or poor nutrition

To practise word group reading is a basic part of speed reading. Sub-vocalisation will be decrease once a reader is able to take four words in a row as there is simply no time to speak all words in your head. Getting the picture visually will be faster than vocalizing these words. This won’t happen over night, hence, patience, practising and trust in your brain’s abilities are so important to achieve all goals.

How fast can I read? Applying speed reading techniques will increase your reading speeds for sure. The average speed is about 150-250 words per minute and it depends on the type of text that will determine how fast you will finally read. Therefore, many web sources speak of reading speed ranges that need to be improved rather than a single value. A reading range of 350-500 should be easy to achieve by applying basic techniques such as getting rid of bad habits or practising word group reading. Breaking the 750 or 1000 words per minute barrier comes along with switching to visualised reading. Anything above is very advanced reading and few people will achieve this goal.

Reading Speed Tests. Before you start, you might interested in testing your current speed to know you making progress later on. Here’s an online one, but any other online or offline testing will do so too or as suggested in any good book.

Speed Reading Training. If you think you have read enough, you may want practising word group reading. Ron Cole, the author of ‘How to be a super reader‘ provides training PDFs with either two, three, four or five words to practise on. You will find some instructions at the end of each PDF. As said, it is a good idea to be involved in some sort of course to avoid being lost or to lose motivation. This is a review of an online course.

If you prefer web tools for your daily intake than Spreeder could help you to learn reading a chunk of five words in one go. You can past text into a text box, which then will be converted into video. Settings include words per minute as well as number of words.

Speed reading software has been around for a long time as well. There are very different approaches. Here’s a review of a popular software.

There are good books out there, but I also found this series of YouTube videos inspiring. Training sessions included.

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