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 facts and skills quicker.
In this article, we want to explore the popular subject of speed reading. We will explain what speed reading is, whether it can really 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 work. For more insights from experienced entrepreneurs, sign up for our EWOR Platform and gain access to over 17 courses and a plethora of resources.
What is Speed Reading?
Speed reading is the practice of reading more words in less time. It allows 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, then 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’s 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 text, reviewing information or looking for a piece of missing information.
What are the Most Common Techniques?
There are two common 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 Sub-vocalisation Method – In the sub-vocalisation 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 read texts faster.
There are also some more general tips to increase your reading time:
- 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 get the gist of the text, you should practice speed reading. However, if you want to gain some fundamental knowledge about a certain topic, this practice won’t help. In that case, you need to spend more time while reading something. For example, stopping at a certain passage and reading up on concepts which need deeper 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 mind maps helps to revise the text without rereading the whole document or a book.
Reading faster is possible. There are several techniques such as the pointer method or the sub-vocalisation method that will help you get to the end of the text faster.
Keep in mind that every gain in reading speed is usually traded with a loss in reading comprehension. So, it 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.
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