If you remember, we started off by highlighting the importance of memory when it comes to speed reading. Because you need to understand what you read (otherwise what’s the point!), you can’t speed read unless your brain can cope with the information overload.
By improving your ability to digest and retain information, you will find it easier to comprehend the text when you increase your reading speed.
We also looked at the importance of using both sides of your brain, including the right-hand side which deals with more visual and creative functions. The trick we learned here was to create pictures from words and phrases so we don’t “read” them but we “see” them. Remember the example of a road sign? We don’t stop and read every word but we understand instantly what it says. This takes a lot of practice but will help you with your speed reading.
We then moved on to the speed-reading techniques themselves, and there were several key things you need to do.
Prereading and skimming give you an overall picture and framework of the text, which means you have an idea of what to expect when you start to speed read. Gliding will help to keep you focused on moving forward and not looking back, but the real trick to speed reading is using your peripheral vision.
By only “reading” a few words per line, you will soon whizz through text but still understand what it says. Using our peripheral vision is a more efficient and effective way to read than stopping and focusing on one word at a time, and this is the key to being able to read faster.
Together, these methods will help you to read quicker without losing any understanding, but of course, it takes a lot of consistent practice to increase your speed.
Just like you need to keep working out to stay fit, so you need to keep practicing regularly to maintain and increase your reading speed. Imagine your eyes are a muscle that needs to be trained to stay in shape and to be able to read hundreds of words a minute.
Even a little bit of regular practice can help, so implementing these techniques whenever you read will help you develop your reading speed. Of course, sometimes it may not be appropriate to speed read if you want to read for enjoyment, or if you’re reading something very difficult for your studies, but wherever possible, practice reading at speed.
Regular practice will make speed reading a habit. If you think you’ll forget, set a daily reminder to get a bit of practice in. It would be such a waste if you managed to increase your reading speed only for it to fall back again because you didn’t practice!