Improve your efficiency by learning how to read up to three times faster with these proven speed-reading techniques.
Step 1: Skim Skim an entire article, chapter, or even book before you begin reading. Take in the title, introduction, any subheadings, and bold-type passages, so that when you start reading, you’ll already know the selection’s main points.
Step 2: Let your finger do the walking Lead with your index finger, a pen, or your computer mouse, which keeps your eyes focused and moving ahead. This prevents them from darting around re-reading words, something the average person does to the tune of 20 words per page.
TIP: Move your pointer at a faster rate than you think you can read, which will retrain your brain by forcing you to keep up.
Step 3: Shut up! Stop 'sounding out' each word in your head, or mouthing the words silently, two things many of us learned to do in grade school. U.S. Air Force research shows your brain can recognize a word in less than five-hundredths of a second, while it takes a quarter of a second—five times longer—to say it in your head.
Step 4: “Chunk” Learning not to sound out words will help you 'chunk'—a technique that requires you to group together four or five words by skipping articles like 'the' and 'and.' You’ll still get the meaning, since these words aren’t needed for comprehension.
Step 5: Keep going Train yourself to stop taking a short pause after each paragraph, something most of us do unconsciously.
TIP: When reading a passage on a computer screen, try highlighting the text in a dark color and changing the font color to white. Your eyes can more easily read white words on a dark background.
Step 6: Practice Practice these techniques for at least 20 minutes a day, starting with books and articles printed in large fonts. As you practice, you’ll learn how to prioritize content, speeding you along even more.
FACT: John F. Kennedy, a student of speed-reading, told a reporter he could read 1,200 words per minute, although he later admitted to exaggerating that number.