Five Essential Speed Reading Tips ... and One Quick Note of Caution
by Brian Vaszily, founder of IntenseExperiences.com
We’re going too fast, trying to do too much, and forgetting to delve in and savor the beautiful experiences and wonders the world provides us.
This is true in all walks of life, from eating our food fast versus deeply experiencing its textures and flavors to sending quick emails, text and phone calls versus deep and relaxed conversations or hand-written letters. And I stand firmer than ever in my conviction that it is THE key cause behind the rampant high-stress, depression and feelings of loneliness and emptiness (and the consequential chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer) that are plaguing more people than ever.
That is, of course, why helping to guide people back to the transformative power of intense experiences – via the free IntenseExperiences.com newsletter and more – is my passion and mission.
That is also why, before repeating these useful tips on how to speed read, I present this CAUTION: these speed reading tips should NOT be applied to all types of writing.
Using these skills to zip through artfully crafted essays and articles, stories, novels and poetry whose purpose is in part to be pondered deeply and savored is ridiculous and pointless … like chugging a glass of fine wine or snarfing down mouthfuls of Belon oysters.
On the other hand, these five highly effective speed reading tips you can put to use right away are perfect for the information-oriented writing we’re increasingly confronted with.
In fact, it would serve you well to master these speed reading tips so that you can free your life up for slowing down and savoring the good stuff… like IntenseExperiences.com ;)
Speed Reading Tip #1: Use a pen, your fingertip or a pointer of some sort to run under the words in books, magazines and other print materials as you read, as if you were underlining the words. Your eyes are designed to follow a moving object naturally; you can gradually increase the speed of the pen under the words and you will find your rate of reading increases “effortlessly.” You can actually also increase your rate of comprehension due to the assist with focusing.
Speed Reading Tip #2: Pre-read the work by scanning it first for its main ideas. Scan the first and last sentences of each paragraph, and if it has one scan the table of contents, to determine the main areas worth focusing greater attention on. Of course you also have to use common sense: if you are reviewing a manual on how to perform brain surgery, skip this tip!
Speed Reading Tip #3: Don’t reread sentences or sections. People often fall into this habit, but with information-oriented reading your intuition often has a reason for glazing over certain sections even if your doubting-Thomas mind doesn’t quite believe that. Consciously practice not rereading when you are tempted to and you will find that you comprehend the material adequately; after consciously preventing yourself from rereading material, you will also eventually break the habit and not have to pay attention to avoiding it altogether.
Speed Reading Tip #4: Don’t read aloud or “mutter-read.” Virtually everyone subvocalizes, in which you hear the words in your mind as you read and either mutter them aloud or at least move your lips to some extent to form the words as you “hear” them. But this slows down your reading in a big way, as your mind can move far faster than your lips. One way to prevent is to hum softly as you read to drown the subvocalization out. Another way is to actually to place something safe and nontoxic into your mouth (harness style), such as clean pen or your finger, to prevent your lips from moving. Either way, eventually you wean yourself out of the habit of subvocalization and won’t need to rely on either tactic to prevent it.
Speed Reading Tip #5: Ditch the iPod and other distractions. In the age of multi-tasking, many people have convinced themselves they read just fine – or better – with “background” music, TV, conversations or the like. But experts say this is nonsense. The brain naturally uses “focus-juice” (my scientific term ;) ) to process what is going on around it, even if you are not fully conscious of that processing. Any focus-juice spent on hearing Timberlake’s SexyBack or Chopin’s Etudes is focus-juice NOT dedicated to the material you reading, which will slow you down AND reduce your comprehension.
There are many other more advanced tips available through a wide variety of speed reading programs, but those five essentials can increase your rate of reading and comprehension tremendously … for the works that aren’t meant to be savored, of course.