Speed Reading Techniques

At last, here's an article that explains and reveals the basic speed reading techniques in plain language.

The most important concept behind speed-reading is eye span. You know that fleeting moment when your eyes blink as you read a line in a book? Your eyes are not blinking without purpose. They are taking in the information, which that brain of yours will later process.

The eye blink I am referring to has no more motivation than the textual material at hand. This is where speed-reading or slow reading is decided. If you read word-by-word your are definitely one slow reader. If you read by vocalizing every syllable, you are also slower. Unlike me, you probably listened to your mom when she said that the best way to retain information is to read it to yourself aloud. Overcoming this conventional wisdom alone will bring you a hefty gain in reading speed!

So the big rule is avoid subvocalization which is the clinical term for reading word-for-word. The wisdom behind avoiding the subvocalization trap lies in the fact that your eye span works in conjunction with the eye blink to record the information in the brain. The shorter your eye span, the less information your brain assimilates. Do you get it?

That's why the chief trick behind becoming a speed-reading freak is widening your eye span. That means that in one reading sweep at the blink of an eye, you should not only capture one word but words, phrases and eventually a whole sentence.

Do not do this right away. Clinical studies show that forcing it too soon might even lead to dyslexia or the inability to read (would you believe Tom Cruise suffered from this malady and eventually overcame it, probably from the pressure of reading too many movie scripts?). You have to start your speed-reading career slowly and surely. You won't be paid $20 million for it like Tom Cruise, but believe me, you'll reap its rewards in time.

So back to the golden rule of speed-reading. Widen that eye span. Support and start working on the habit immediately by reading in optimum condition, that is with the proper lighting, right text size, and yes, plenty of leg room. Don't read word-for-word!

Another pitfall to avoid is re-reading, which is technically known in speed reading circles as digressing. Don't get caught doing this, or better yet, avoid doing it altogether. This takes up too much of your precious reading time. Believe me, it's not worth it. You think your mind will remember it better by going back? Clinical studies reveal otherwise.

A speed-reading critic once said that he'd rather read slowly than "jump from one parapet to another without knowing the difference." That is not true. Speed reading, in fact, has a direct correlation to comprehension. In other words, the faster one reads the better the comprehension.

There are two great speed-reading techniques that you can try. One is what the AceReader school terms as Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) which is really nothing but Center Text Mode kind of speed-reading. The idea is that you should confine the text from within the center of your vision to be able to read more rapidly. That means, the more central the text is from your vision, the more effortless the reading.

Another technique is known as Tachistoscopic Scroll Presentation (TSP) which is also a key principle behind the AceReader philosophy. I don't know why they invent such high-fallutin' terms but all I know is that TSP or the Eye Trainer Scroll Method is plain and simple scrolling as we know it in PC jargon. Don't worry too much about the terminology. To simplify it even further, TSP is widening your eye span or covering as many words in one sweep as is possible with the human eye.

Whether it's RSVP or TSP, you can practice at home. Don't attempt to run too fast or you might regress to the old habit. I strongly suggest, however, that you give yourself as much practice as possible. Speed reading freaks will attest that there are two very important learning accelerators-practice and the drive to read faster.

Start slowly, but do practice a lot. It won't hurt to read too much. We don't live in the Medieval Ages any more where people who read too much are subjected to the guillotine!

There are just a few more techniques I need to teach you before I hand you your speed-reading diploma.

Before tackling any book, always go through the book's Table of Contents first to give yourself an idea of what the book has in store. Skimming through the Table of Contents will reinforce certain terminology, concepts and philosophies that are at the core of any book-a practice that will help you retain information better.

When you finally reach the reading part, don't start by going through it paragraph by paragraph. On the contrary, read only the first sentence of every paragraph at the first pass, for the first sentence usually carries the germ or the main idea behind every paragraph. Think of it like window-shopping. Do some inventory first, before you go on a shopping spree!

Finally, attempting to read at the same speed for all kinds of materials is not only stupid-it is disastrous to your reading life. A pocket book romance, for example, is something that you will tackle in a breeze as opposed to, say Karl Marx's Dialectical Materialism. The average reader ploughs on somewhere between 250 and 350 words per minute for easy material. The ideal reading speed, however, is between 500 -700 words per minute, although some people can read so much more than that.

To help you remember this principle, consider driving. You don't drive at the same speed all the time. You slow down on curves or mountain ranges. You gain more speed on a freeway. The same holds true for speed-reading.

© High Speed Ventures 2011