By Melvin Ng
Creator of "The 16-Minute Speed Reading Course"
The ability to speed read is an important skill in today's world, where - whether we are students or at work - we are often expected to read hefty amounts of materials on a daily basis. As a result, improving your speed reading technique is something each and every one of us should not only do, but maintain. What, then, are speed reading techniques?
Speed reading - the essential elements
Before you start to learn any particular speed reading technique, you need to consider that all speed reading techniques rely on three essential elements:
1. A desire to improve you reading speed;
2. A willingness to give new ideas a chance; and
3. Motivation, discipline and continued practice.
Without these three key elements, no speed reading technique is going to succeed.
Speeding reading technique (1) - Skimming
Almost all successful speed readers will attest to the fact that they are a successful speed reader because they have a form of peripheral vision that allows them to see large amount of data on a page and to "skim" what they are reading. In short, speed reading like this means that one is not reading each and every word on the page, but merely scanning through the material. Using this speed reading technique, every now and then you will come across a keyword or phrase and it is this that will provide you with the essence of what is being written. The rest of the information on the page is discarded.
Although this speed reading technique would seem to indicate that the reader does not fully comprehend what has been written, in fact studies have shown this is not the case - majority of speed readers using this technique actually increased their comprehension of the reading materials!
Speed reading technique (2) - first sentence reading
Unlike speed reading technique (1), in speed reading technique (2), the reader will read the first sentence of each paragraph, in order to get the crux (main idea) of the idea behind the paragraph and will then skim read the remainder of the paragraph. This process is then repeated on down the page until such time as all the reading material has been exhausted.
Using speed reading technique (2), it is generally understood that the reader will glean enough information from the first sentence not to be overly concerned about the information contained in the remainder of the paragraph, where the writer will merely be reinforcing the notion set out in sentence one. However, this technique does fall-down on one major point - it pre-supposes that a paragraph only has one idea, which is clearly not always the case! If you find that you are reading material where the writer has used multiple ideas in the same paragraph, you may need to adapt your speed reading technique to one of the other speed reading techniques.
Speed reading technique (3) - Group wording
There is a term in speed reading circles that is seen as being one of the major demons of reading: "subvocalization". Subvocalization is a clinical term for word-for-word reading - and it's a huge no-no in speed reading techniques. Subvocalization slows reading down, without providing any upswing in comprehension to counter the lost reading time.
Group wording, as the name suggests, is where the reader looks at a group of words and phrases at the same time. Using the group wording technique, speed readers are able to read large chunks of information at the same time - thus, saving time.
Additional speed reading techniques
Aside from the specific speed reading techniques in 1 to 3 above, there are a number of habits/practices that are generally considered counter-productive to speed reading - thus will have an affect on your speed reading abilities. In no particular order, these include:
* subvocalization - as already stated, this is where you speak out the words you read. It's a major cause of slow reading. Unfortunately, as most of us are taught to speak out the words we read when we learn to read as children, it is also one of the hardest habits to break. All that can be said is that you keep plugging away at trying to eradicate this habit.
* digressing - digressing is where the reader will read a passage, then return to re-read it, usually in the mistaken belief that they will be able to comprehend better what has been written on a second read. Again, in speed reading circles this is seen as a major no-no, bad habit, which needs to be broken!
So, if you want to improve your speed reading skills, you need to remember not to subvocalize or re-read passages, and to read great chunks at one time by broadening your eye-span. Simple really! Actually, in fairness, it will take time to learn, and don't expect to get it right the first time. Don't push this issue too much, as pushing it may prove to be counter-productive.