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Speed reading is a skill which fascinates many people. Would it not be amazing to read documents and books much faster and retain all the information? After all, it would save a lot of time and enable readers to learn more facts and skills quicker.

In this article, we want to explore the often hyped subject of speed reading. We will explain what speed reading is, if it really can save a lot of time and introduce some common techniques.

In the end, we will dive deeper into when speed reading can be applied and why it does not always make sense.

What is Speed Reading?

Speed reading is the practice of reading more words in less time, thus allowing a person to finish a book or document faster.

During speed reading, readers try to read and understand several words at a time, which is called sentence reading. The individual words are not read one by one – instead, a speed reader will be able to fill in omitted words through context.

Speed reading a text requires concentration. While easy texts can be scanned really fast, complicated information requires more context and can only be read slower.

Can Speed Reading Save a Lot of Time?

If speed reading is understood as reading and understanding a text faster than usual to save time, it is unlikely to work. Scott H. Young states that a higher reading speed will compromise the understanding of the subject. Woody Allen perfectly summed up this trade-off when he said, “I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.”

However, with speed reading, it is possible to quickly get an overview of certain content through so-called skimming. In this way, it saves a lot of time in determining the main idea of a long piece of information, reviewing a piece of information or looking for a piece of information.

What are the Most Common Speed Reading Techniques?

There are two techniques that help with the ability to read and thus improve the speed:

  • The Pointer Method – The pointer method involves physically following words while reading, either with a finger or an object such as a card. It prevents our eyes from wandering and keeps them focused on the words.
  • The Subvocalization Method – In the sub-vocalization method readers try to avoid pronouncing each word in their head. When we read loudly in our mind, reading is slowed down.

By practising these techniques, you can increase your reading speed over time.

There are also some more general tips to increase your reading speed:

  • Time Your Reading – Keep a record of the time you need to read a page or chapter. It helps to keep track of the speed and prevents your mind from wandering off.
  • Remove Distractions – Distractions such as phones and the internet drastically influence your ability to stay focused. Even though you’re not actively using your phone, its mere presence affects your ability to stay concentrated.

When Should Speed Reading Be Applied?

Before improving your reading speed, find out why you are reading something.

If your goal is to skim texts, you should practice speed reading. However, if you want to gain some fundamental knowledge about a certain topic, speed reading won’t help.

In that case, you are better off spending your time considering your effectiveness, such as stopping at a certain passage and reading up on concepts which need deep understanding. We cover how to do so in this blog article.

Also, you sometimes need to stop and reformulate the writing into your ideas or create a graph simplifying the concept. Writing out notes or graphs helps to revise the text and is a way to read fast without reading the whole text.

Conclusion

Yes, reading faster is possible. There are several techniques such as the pointer method or the subvocalization method that will help you increase your reading speed.

Keep in mind that every gain in reading speed is usually traded with a loss in reading comprehension. Thus, speed reading should only be applied with very basic lectures or easily understandable texts.

If reading more is one of your goals, check out our 2022 Reading List for Entrepreneurs.

With our articles, we are trying to provide as much free and valuable content as possible. If you want to bring your personal development to the next level learn more about how to start a company, check out our programmes at EWOR.

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An exclusive 10-month, fully-sponsored, program designed for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make the world a better place.

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