Speed Reading

We live in incredible times where all the world knowledge is only one google click away. Most knowledge takes the form of words on a page. Therefore, reading is the skill to sharpen. If you could multiply your reading speed by two, three or even ten, you could in theory multiply your accomplishments by the same factor.

Most of us after learning how to read in primary school didn’t pay much attention to how we were reading. But like any skill, it can be optimized. In fact, two simple techniques are at the core of speed reading theory.

Stop subvocalizing

We learned reading by saying the words aloud. That’s how teachers could verify if we were reading correctly. However, through that process, we also seeded the habit of subvocalizing when we read. To subvocalize while reading is to utter with the lips silently or with barely audible sound the words we encounter on the page. One way to check if you are subvocalizing is to notice your mouth or tongue movements while you’re reading: are they moving or completely still? Subvocalization slows us down when we read.

We do not need at all to have the sounds of the words in our mind in order to understand what we read. For instance, when we encounter punctuation, we do not pronounce it each time we see it. For the same reason, when we see the word “red”, we do not need to pronounce it in order to understand it. By simply looking at the words without subvocalization can increase drastically our reading speed.

Use a pointer

We also initially read by using our finger as a pointer. It helped us to focus on where we were in the text. Then we are told to stop that habit as we get older. This, however, is a habit that should have been kept for two reasons. The first reason is to reduce reading regression. Reading regression occurs when you go back to previously read lines because you lost track of where you were on the page or because you forgot what you just read. The second reason is that by having a pointer, you have a concrete visual sign to control your speed. If you want to increase your reading speed, simply move your finger quicker across the page.

Using the two previous techniques will improve your reading speed without decreasing your comprehension. And as you practice, it will get easier and easier. I wish you all a happy reading.

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