First of all, we will look at rapid pre-reading.
This is simply looking at what you have to read so your brain has some idea of the task ahead of it.
For example, you will want to look at how much you actually need to read as there is a major difference between 1 page, 10 pages, and 100 pages! There’s nothing worse than not knowing how much you have left to read because you can feel like you’re not making any progress. However, knowing you have x number of pages left will help you to focus your mind and judge your efforts.
At this stage, you will also want to look at any summaries (i.e. the back of a book) as this will highlight key themes and give you an overall picture of what the book is about. Looking at chapter headings and other titles will reinforce this as you have some idea of the topics you will be faced with during your reading.
This should only take a short space of time, but it is definitely worth doing before starting to speed read. If anything, it will focus your mind on the task at hand and give you an idea of some things to look out for when you come to the next stage, which is…
Again, you will just want to skim read the information in the text. The aim here is not to understand the information, or even to read it properly, but to help prepare you for when you do come to read.
Skimming involves picking out headings, keywords, first lines of paragraphs/sections, and any charts or pictures there may be, to further reinforce the overall picture you have gained from your pre-reading. You may want to jot down these headings for reference later, or you may prefer to just keep a mental note of them.
These points you pick out will act as hooks when you speed read, which will help to focus your brain on what the text is telling you. The hooks will be the main pieces of information that everything else you read will be linked to, and this will help improve your comprehension as you won’t be reading into a “vacuum”.
Because you have already had a very brief skim of the text, the hooks will be familiar points to attach fresh information to which will help you to absorb more information than if you go straight into speed reading with completely fresh eyes. It will enable you to gain a bigger picture in a shorter space of time, which is the entire aim of speed reading!
Skimming and pre-reading will only take a matter of minutes, but you will be surprised what you can learn from doing them. So you won’t have “read” a whole book in ten minutes, but after these two actions, you should have a general idea of what the book is saying, the key points it conveys, and how it is structured.
This knowledge will be invaluable when you come to speed read as you will have things to look out for and will have a framework in which the new information can fit into. If you try to speed read “blind” without having skimmed or pre-read, you will find it much more difficult to increase your speed as more time will be spent processing how the information all fits together.
Next lesson we will look at the next stage of speed reading- gliding. This technique is essential to force you to speed read, and not slip back into your comfortable habits and will be a real test of how fast you can go.