The Key to Speed Reading
By Steven A Key
Author of The New Muse Book Series
Before we begin, please envision yourself in the future, reading at an extremely fast pace. This will occur, if you try. Techniques are further below.
Years ago, while working in corporate America, I took a speed-reading training course costing several thousands of dollars. The course was one week long, and was based upon the teaching principles of Evelyn Woods, who founded the small science of speed reading. Evelyn started her career as a counselor for poor young girls, many of whom could not read well. She tried to help them read in a better way, and in doing so eventually founded the Evelyn Woods Reading Dynamics Institute in Washington DC. She was not a speed-reader in the early course of her life. She had studied the fastest known readers and tried to increase her own word-reading speed to 900 words a minute, but,she kept failing at her task. One curious day, she sat reading by a friendly babbling brook, trying so hard to read faster…but she could not. Furious with herself, she hurled the book across the creek, it landed in a muddy shoal.
She retrieved the dirty book and began reading again that evening. The mud had smudged the pages, so she had to scrape it off with her fingers, and began using a left-to-right cleaning motion that her eyes rapidly fixated upon. Suddenly she realized something new about her reading and she paused for a moment. Viola! She was now reading five times faster than ever before. She had studied many extremely fast readers before and could find nothing about them that fit into a specific pattern…except that they all moved their eyes very rapidly. Now, she was moving her eyes quickly too, somewhat out of a necessity, to clean the dirt, from her book, and found that by relaxing her eyes, she could then read at a faster, nearly breathtaking pace. Now reading so much faster, a new phrase came to her mind, Mental Soaring, which describes a slightly transcendent state of consciousness, while intensely reading.There are only a few major points involved in her simple process. Today, one can learn speed reading in literally 15-30 minutes, using streamlined techniques, as listed in the next few pages.
The Pre-Read (important)
As we begin to read a book, our minds form
concepts; the best information for these concepts
are found in 1) the front and back book covers,
2) TOC; the table of contents with chapter names,
and 3) the book introduction. Read these three book items first, as easily and quickly as you can,
using the following methods. Then proceed to read each chapter more quickly, by getting into the ‘Flow’,
as you have your concepts ‘preset’ in your mind. Please do sit up straight while speed-reading; lying
down is not recommended. Your goal is to double or triple the speed of your reading; some will improve
even more, as did Evelyn. This is a lifetime learned skill, which can dramatically affect your personality
and intelligence, in just a few simple steps.
The Important Pointer
In earlier academic days,
taught students not to use
a reading pointer, such as a pencil or finger. This turned out to be a terrible idea, that Evelyn Woods
finally helped to turnaround, with her special, yet-easy to learn training courses.The use of a pointer,
whether a pen or your finger, helps the eye to locate words and effortlessly sweep the lines and pages,
as the drag of the eye-hindrance factor is removed. Remarkably, this is analogous to a computer disk
search, where half of the response time is due to a time-consuming locating-search for the actual data.
It’s the same with us.
Always use pointers, the type is your choice. With printed matter, you can place your finger or pen
upon the written text. When reading Ebooks, you can use your finger, placed very close to your eye,
and sit back and enjoy a much faster pace; your finger will only move a few inches as you scan the
lines. Use your pointer as a pacing tool, you can speed up or slow down at will.
When you begin to move quickly over the pages of the book, it’s important not to subvocalize, or internally speak to yourself. Subvocalization is actually a technique for ‘Slow Reading’ where one purposely slows down to ponder and absorb deeper comprehension. Many intelligent people read with subvocalization at 250 wpm .It’s best to know when to speed-read and when to slow-read, based upon your own interests and taste. Then, overall, you will become a much more effective reader, as you become more proficient at both speed and comprehension. It is also possible to speed read by simply listening to the book, via audible recording. Readers ears can pick up subtle nuances and errors using the audiobook process and may be able to read (listen) for greater lengths of time.
The Markup and the Notch: As you move steadily through the content of the book, either printed matter or an eBook, use a highlighting marker, or red-inked pen, to isolate special points of interest on each line and page. Do not over do this; only 5-20 percent of a given page should receive special markup. Remember, you are speed-reading! Bookmark special pages you deem essential on eBooks. On printed matter, notch back the top page by ½ inch. Later, you will consider these bookmarked, or notched pages, to be most important pages of all. Most fiction readers won’t need to apply this technique, but, as a non-fiction author, its quintessential; otherwise one get quickly lost in a large swirl of information.
Practice, Practice, Practice: Now, as you understand the simple basic techniques of Evelyn’s process, you can begin testing your self in timed trials, if you wish. I strongly suggest this; its an easy thing to do, and you’ll enjoy it. Evelyn’s week-long course is approximately 80% timed trials, where students measured their improvement in speed and comprehension at regular intervals. As you energetically practice these few techniques, you will notice a big improvement in your reading skills.
See? Speed-Reading can be easy, if you try. Please see Speed-reading on Wikipedia for further details. This completes this tutorial on effective speed reading. You have started upon a great path of personal improvement. Read the best books you can get your hands on!
‘The True University these day is a Collection of Books.’
Good luck and reading lessons to you.
Steven A Key