Kim Peek was a savant, and you may have seen the movie about his life, entitled “Rain Man.” He was one of a kind when it came to speed reading and memory. According to the story, Kim used his left eye to read the left page of a book, while using his right eye to read the other…all at blinding speed. And he remembered everything he read.
Speed reading for the average person can lead to higher learning and better job potential. Reading reports or company information and understanding what you read is a valuable asset to bring to a company. There are 20 benefits to being a speed reader. Here are several benefits that may prompt you to learn this valuable skill.
• You can develop a better writing style
• Visualizing is part of learning to speed read
• Develops your concentration and overall discipline
• Due to your speed, you can quickly bypass the fluff and focus on information that will help you.
• It is a significant time management skill
As you can see, learning the skill of speed reading will improve many different areas of your life.
What Is Speed Reading, and Does It Work?
Speed reading is the skill of consuming large amounts of text and having the ability to comprehend what was just read. Speed reading will not work if you do not learn the techniques, practice repeatedly, and learn how to understand the material that comes at you with warp speed. Some people will attempt speed reading and dismiss learning the skill of high-speed comprehension. This, of course, is a huge mistake.
If you do martial arts, you do not start at the black belt level. The proper thing to do is read up about martial arts and each one to understand the basics. Learning to speed similarly read works. You are a white belt, a raw beginner. So to get speed reading working for you, start with something you have read more than once. It can be a unique article on a topic you love or the lyrics from a long song. Read through it again and see what words are already concrete in your mind. Those are the keywords of the sentence.
You need to be very familiar with the topic before you begin speed reading, and this is one reason why previously read material should be the starting point.
Progressing from a white belt to the next belt means learning about the topic you want to tackle next. If you want to learn to speed read about a particular hobby you want to do, watch videos first. Many hobbies have words you may have never seen before such as, “purl,” in knitting, or “Caddis,” in fly tying. Purl is a technique as in knit once, purl twice, and Caddis is an aquatic bug favored by fish.
When you hit words you have never seen before; it will slow down your speed considerably. Know your subject, then work on the speed…that is the motto. People who do not already have an extensive vocabulary need to review the subject matter first and build their vocabulary up. Learning new words daily is a great way to make speed reading become a new skill for you.
Speed reading is much more than just trying to get your eyes moving faster over the page. There are some tactics to learn, and you will have fun while practicing these ideas.
Tactic 1- When you read, do you hear a voice in your head. It may be your own as you read the words, forming little mental pictures as you go. Or you may change voices depending on what you are reading, from horror to comedy. Narration is something that is best left to people like Robert Clotworthy. He narrates several shows for the History Channel, and he is both loved and hated for his doubling back on words. Stop and think for a moment. Do you tend to narrate what you are reading? If the answer is yes, it needs to stop for speed reading to work.
Tactic 2- Speed reading works because you learn to eliminate unnecessary words and focus on the main words. You have already done this before but just didn’t realize it. As you read a sentence about a subject you were very familiar with, you focused on the main words and grasped the concept entirely.
Tactic 3- Distraction is one reason why people have difficulty reading more than one page in a book. You need to get rid of distractions and then do not allow your mind to wander. One way to do this is to use your finger to trace along with the sentence. Your eyes are focused on just that line alone, as your mind grabs the main keywords in the sentence.
7 Reasons Why You Should Learn Speed Reading
You can learn to speed read fiction books, which may be a great trick to show people, yet there is no benefit to that. It would mean dozens of library trips or buying endless books. On the other hand, speed reading non-fiction has a lot of benefits, as does the ability to speed read business documents and reports. It may even mean more cash in your pocket. Sound interesting? Then let’s visit the best reasons for learning how to speed read.
- Resumes for employment need to be specific to the job. Listing that you have a black belt in martial arts will not help you in the business world. Yet if you could speed read and demonstrate that it will increase your chances of being hired. Once hired, using your proficiency in speed reading will lead to promotions and better wages. You will be a team member with the ability to read and retain company related knowledge, increasing your workflow dramatically.
- Speed reading, if you learn to do it properly, will also enhance your ability to remember the knowledge you have consumed. As you will be learning for all your life, this means that you can upgrade your skills by taking more courses than a regular reader. Memory and creativity go hand in hand, which means the ability to speed read will boost your creative skills, assisting at work or in your personal life, such as doing art or creative photography.
- We talk about exercising the physical body and helping it by maintaining proper hydration. Your brain needs exercise and hydration as well. Scientists speak about the brain’s neuroplasticity, which means the growth of networks of cells and the pathways between them for communication. As a speed reader, you are giving your brain superior exercise, and you will find that your intellectual skills will increase.
- Social skills are essential. To thrive, you need to interact with others. As a speed reader, you will gain knowledge in any area that you wish. This means in gatherings at work or play; you will be able to easily slide into conversations and feel very comfortable around all types of people, as you can speak their “language,” from history to politics.
- People frequently buy books on improving their self-confidence or attending seminars with speakers who are experts in teaching about self-confidence. Your self-confidence will soar as you become proficient in speed reading. At work, you can quickly become the go-to person to discuss current events that affect your company’s profitability. You will feel very confident in speaking to various superiors in your company, and confident people are the ones who can easily ask for a raise and quickly demonstrate why they deserve it. As you will become confident, you will also become innovative at work, and it will be no surprise as you come up with new ideas and strategies to improve the company. Your quest for knowledge at a rapid speed means you will have ideas and facts at your fingertips that others in your company do not.
- Focus can be difficult in this fast-paced world. Speed reading can enhance your ability to focus at work and be efficient at your tasks at hand. Your stress levels will be lower than your co-workers because you can laser focus on a critical task while they attempt to do several things at once.
- Speaking of stress, the ability to speed read is calming to the brain. As you are focused, your breathing becomes better, and you relax. Speed reading has been compared to being in a meditative state, which relieves you of severe stress.
5 Proven Speed Reading Methods That Work
Knowing that there are different techniques for you to use in learning to speed read should take away any doubts that you may have in learning this skill. Here are five proven speed-reading methods.
- They say when you run a long race, you should pace yourself. You can use the same idea in speed reading. As you move through a line, use your index finger to move along underneath your reading sentence. This keeps your eyes focused on the words and not wandering to the end of the sentence or dropping down to the next before it is time.
- Word chunking takes time to learn, but it is worth it in the end. You can use this method along with pacing to get your speeds up. In this method, you grasp the main words in a sentence, and this is where your index finger is pointing. The other words, by themselves, do not carry the full meaning and are considered to be auxiliary. An example of chunking is the sentence, “I use the Toronto Transit System. Your main words are Toronto Transit, and you will have trained your eyes to pick up the words to the left and right of these, to grasp the full meaning. There are some exercises that you will need to practice to chunk words and understand what you have read.
- You will need to ignore filler words.
- You will need to work on expanding your eye vision to fit in more words.
- You put the focus on verbs and nouns
- Finally, you will work on reducing lousy reading habits.
- Start thinking of your eyes as a mechanical scanner. As you run your eyes down a page, you quickly pick all the different elements, such as numbers, keywords, lists, graphs, subheadings, or specific keywords. Scanning your page first sets you up to quickly speed read the entire article or page.
- Reversing your lousy reading habits will take time, but it is a key method in getting your speed reading up to where you want it to be. One bad habit is called subvocalization. This is where you have a narration voice in your head, as you would hear in a wildlife documentary film. Sometimes that narrator can be your voice or the voice of a character you like. In subvocalization, the emphasis is put on keywords, and this is distracting to your objective. One trick to stop subvocalization is to chew gum as it takes the focus away from having a pleasant voice giving a reading in your head. Another bad habit is stopping and reversing back to reread a sentence over again.
- The final method or technique to be excellent at speed reading is learning how to increase your ability to comprehend what you have just read. The number one idea is to increase your vocabulary daily. Work on learning as many new words per day as you can handle. Learning how to make a brain map will help you to learn visualization skills. When you can visualize adequately, it improves your memory skills as you hold pictures or words in your head. This, in turn, increases your ability to comprehend new material that you speed read. After you preview an article, write out short questions about what you want to learn from this article. This helps to organize your thinking and recognize word patterns that are related to your questions.
Work on each of these methods, especially word chunking, to get a firm grasp of speed reading. All significant activities have pre-learning before you can move into the major concepts. Think of your math days and how you had to learn the basics of how numbers could be added or subtracted before you started solving math problems. Speed reading works the same way.
Ten Tips to Increase Your Reading Speed
Having a list of great tips for any endeavor gives you that fast start out of the blocks. There is no wondering what to do or lack of focus. Here are the top 10 tips for increasing your reading speed.
- The first thing to do is to pick topics that you enjoy reading. Make a shortlist of five things to read, such as martial arts blogs, entertainment websites for celebrities, or ancient history. If you start trying to speed read material that creates boredom, you may consider giving up on learning speed reading.
- Practice your speed reading daily. Try setting aside time for specific reading and stick to that time. Fit in other practice by speed reading items you see daily like bus shelter signs or menus at the coffee shop.
- Try speed reading and making quick notes to refer to later, rather than going back and rereading what you already covered.
- Get the perfect practice area. You need a quiet room and if reading at nighttime, use lighting that is specific for reading and not getting tired eyes. If possible, read in the sunlight as it is the best source of light for you. Airflow is also essential, so even in the winter, opening the wind, a crack for fresh air is excellent, as long as there is not substantial noise outside. Have a firm, comfortable chair. A lazy boy chair won’t cut it as you will likely drift off to sleep. Wear comfy clothes that are loose-fitting as you need to be relaxed but alert.
- We talked about quick notes. This is the best way to do it, rather than using a colored highlighter or unlinking sentences with a pen. Speed reading should be like flowing downriver in a canoe, and the water is smooth as glass. Highlighting means you are stopping and go back to reread and highlight.
- Your material means all the difference in learning speed reading. If you want to read ancient history, make sure it is not geared towards the university level as this will require much more focus and slow you down. Light material like your local newspaper that has stories about people and events are perfect. That type of newspaper tends to avoid the doom and gloom of the major newspapers. This type of material keeps you from getting bogged down, and at the start of your practice, you need to work on building speed smoothly.
- It may not be practical for all, but the best time to practice your speed reading is in the morning. After you wake up, do some light stretching and drink water. Get yourself fully awake by washing your face with cold water if necessary. Early morning reading means your eyes are “fresh,” as they say in the writer’s world. Without having tired or strained eyes, you will be able to practice without effort.
- Take your daily reading material and skim read it first. Take a quick note of page numbers, indentations, headlines, and other items. This is used as a warm-up, similar to the warm-up a professional singer does before practicing their first song.
- Practice your comprehension skills by creating questions from any headlines. Your brain will activate and help you speed read to find the answers to the questions you have posed to yourself.
- All learning comes with tests to see how much has been absorbed. Have a notebook handy and write out how your progress is. Go online periodically and take a free speed reading test and track your scores. Figure out where you need improvement, practice, and then retest. Rinse and repeat until you are thrilled with your new skill.
Top 5 Speed Reading Apps and Tools
For technology lovers, the world is ablaze with apps and software which make life rewarding and fun. Apps allow you to set your pace digitally, and then it is up to you to work on keeping up. You can easily hit pause, take a quick break, and start again. Think of it like sprint writing; it works in the same way. Speed reading has been around since the 50’s when a school teacher invented it to help her troubled students. Now 70 years later, it is valid and superbly updated by using apps. Here are five cool apps for speeding reading you should check out today.
Wear Reader- Smartwatch owners will love this app called Wear Reader. It allows you to speed read virtually anywhere, such as commuting on the bus or while taking your lunch break. You can import books from iCloud or the online file host system called Dropbox. Changing the words per minute that appear on the screen can be done at a snap, so you speed up as your skills improve. It goes word by word, rather than full sentences when you switch it from regular reader to speed read mode.
Reedy-This app works similarly to Wear Reader but is for android users only. The system they use is called RSVP or Rapid Serial Visual Presentation. To break it down,one word at a time is flashed in the same spot each time. It has been stated that you can reach up to 3,000 words a minute with practice. You will be flying through those dreaded office reports and have time left over for extra coffee. You have more choices about what to read, as they support EPUB, imported text files, and even web links. Be prepared to purchase some in-app tools as only the basic Reedy app is free for download.
Squirt-This app is one that goes directly into your bookmarks for easy access. It works with your Gmail so that you can practice speed reading emails. Are you a fan of reading articles on Medium? Medium has a vast array of articles on all topics, and Squirt has been modified so that it currently works while you are on the Medium site. Once you get into your Gmail or Medium, open your bookmarks and click on Squirt. Once the app opens, it works with a countdown to get yourself focused to speed read at the pace you have set.
Reading Trainer-The main feature of Reading Trainer is to get you to work on your comprehension skills. This is an app that you may want to use paired up with another that focuses on speed. Using both, you get the speed skill and the training on how to understand what you have just speed read fully. You will be able to keep track of how your skills are improving, which means you will be clear on what needs improving. Unlike some of the other apps, Reading Trainer has multi-language support.
7 Speed Reading-This is an excellent app if you want to teach the family or your team to speed read. It supports five users in total, and 7 Speed Reading is so confident about their app that it has a 12-month guarantee. This is an excellent app for kids as it also focuses on eye health, so they won’t have issues with their eyesight from using the program. Memory and comprehension are essential in everything you do. 7 Speed Reader will help you improve in those areas, making it one of the top apps available.
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