How much more could you get done if you completed all of your required reading in one-third or one-fifth the time? Increasing reading speed is a process of controlling fine motor movement period.
1. Preview The Text
Viewing a film’s trailer before watching the movie gives you context and lets you know what to expect. Likewise, previewing a text before reading it prepares you to quickly gain an understanding of what you’re about to read. To preview a text, scan it from the beginning to the end, paying special attention to headings, subheadings, anything in bold or large font, and bullet points. To get a big picture understanding, skim the introductory and concluding paragraphs.
2. Speed Reading Is About Control, Not Speed
I dislike the way speed reading is often presented because it makes the skill seem to be only about increasing your top speed. As a result, many people are quick to judge that people can’t physically process more information or point out that comprehension goes down while speed reading. To me, these arguments miss the point. Speed reading is about controlling your reading rate, not just going faster. If you’re in a racecar, top speed is important, but even more important is the driver’s skill at adjusting speeds to make careful turns. The ability to control your speed will make you a much more efficient reader than just blazing through text.
3. Don’t Read Every Word
To increase your reading speed, pay attention to your eyes. Most people can scan in 1.5 inch chunks, which, depending on the font size and type of text, usually comprise three to five words each. Rather than reading each word individually, move your eyes in a scanning motion, jumping from a chunk (of three to five words) to the next chunk of words. Take advantage of your peripheral vision to speed up around the beginning and end of each line, focusing on blocks of words rather than the first and last words.
4. Write A Summary
Your job shouldn’t end when you read the last word on the page. After you finish reading, write a few sentences to summarize what you read, and answer any questions you had before you started reading. Did you learn what you were hoping to learn? By spending a few minutes after reading to think, synthesize the information, and write what you learned.
5. Make the Material More Interesting
I know, it sounds impossible. How can you possibly make statistics/accounting/Jane Eyre interesting? But you can make material more interesting if you put some effort in before you pick up the book. No, you can’t make boring topics come alive as if they were the latest thriller fiction. But you can make them interesting enough that you can stay focused while reading.
6. Reading Rate Comes With Practice
Although less glamorous than subvocalization or pointer-enabled reading techniques, the best speed reading technique is this: read more to read faster. When you regularly read a book per week, your reading rate will improve. If you aren’t reading in your first language, language proficiency will be your biggest obstacle to high reading rates. I’m an intermediate with French, and my French reading is a crawl compared to my English reading. That’s because every paragraph contains a new word or unfamiliar grammatical construction.