Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were once asked: “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?” There answers were:
“Being able to read super fast…” – Bill Gates
“I probably wasted 10 years of reading slowly.” – Warren Buffet
Two of the richest and most successful men on earth wish they could read faster? Why? If you put yourself in their position: in a time where technology is rapidly changing our lives and things are moving faster than ever, it becomes harder and harder to absorb all the information. If you are leading a multi million company, the amount of challenges you have to deal with and the amount of decisions you have to make each day is just overwhelming. Therefore it is just an absolute necessity to digest information faster. But this is not only a skill reserved for CEO’s of big company or super successful people. Everyone can learn it and and once you mastered this skill, it will benefit you for life.
A skill that only a few people practice.
Can you actually remember the last time you actively learned how to “read”? Exactly! For almost the majority of us, we stopped learning in elementary school. As soon as we learned the alphabet and how to combine letters to words, we actually stopped improving our reading skill and are almost stuck on the same level. Of course we have to read in daily life in order to do our jobs, but the way we do it, hasn’t changed ever since elementary school.
Don’t you wish to be able to download information faster and finish a book in 2h instead of 4h?
In this article I want to share some techniques how you can practice one of the most amazing skills that will benefit you for the rest of your life: speed reading.
You might also heard of other techniques such as skimming and scanning before, but by practicing speed reading you are training your eyes to move faster and to suppress bad habits such sub vocalisation instead of skipping content and jumping with your eyes.
Find out your base rate first
Take a book of your choice and read for 1 min. Read how you would normally read with full comprehension. After that, count the lines. Multiply the lines by 10 (most books have 10 words per line)
example: 20 lines * 10 = 200 wpm (words per minute)(average reading speed for people is 150 – 250wpm)
*** The Techniques ***
1. Use your Left Hand to fix your eyes.
Our eyes tend to jump back and forward while reading. Using your hand can help you to avoid that. Remember when you started reading as a kid. At school, we learned to use our hands/pen to fix our eyes at a word. Applying the same technique here, we can train our eyes to follow our hands and not jump back and forth. Using the left hand will activate the right part of your brain which is the “creative” part that helps you to visualize (#5).
2. Stop reading out loud in your head
This is called sub vocalisation. Your reading speed is limited by the speed you speak. If you turn off your inner voice when reading, you have no limits. Using your hand can also help to suppress your inner voice. If you move your hand faster (#1), then your inner voice will not be able to follow. Shewing a bubble gum also helps 😉
3. Make use of your Peripheral Vision
The majority of people read the first and the last word of a line. this is not an effective use of your peripheral vision. Start with the 3rd and end with the 3rd word of a line. If you get better this, move to the 4th and so on.
4. Read in Segments
Don’t read every single word, instead try to read in segments. I tend to use the width of my hand to “jump” from one part to the other. 95% of all words are side words anyway, that have no meaning.
Imagine the words you read and create a picture in your head. Try to imagine reading as the same as watching a movie. Movies are a total information overload but most of the time we can still remember almost everything, even if it was a 3h movie.
*** Final Words ***
Speed-reading can be extremely exhausting at the beginning. So don’t worry if you cannot always remember things. Therefore I would suggest to start with an easy fictional book, instead of an encyclopedia. Practice every day for min 20min. (I combine this exercise with my morning routine) Practice until your eyes get used to the speed. If you get comfortable with the speed, your brain will spend less power on focusing on speed and moving your eyes, instead it will start to focus on the content and start visualising.
With these techniques in mind, practice 5 min and then stop the timer again to find out how much faster you are now.
TIP: I found this website where you can also check your speed and see how you do compared to the fastest reader:
WSJ – Speed Reading Test