Too much to read, too little time. This is a common complaint these days. We have an abundance of information, yet limited time to take it all in. The joke is on us apparently.
More people these days seem to be moving towards time-efficient reading techniques that for years have been negatively represented as ineffective. In other words, the buzz is all about speed reading.
What is Speed Reading?
Speed reading has been used for years – in fact, you might have been speed reading texts without even realizing that “hey I’m speed reading through this book!” In the last 5 years or so, as the demand for a more efficient reading techniques rose, speed reading has gained more prominence as a valid method for getting the gist of texts in less time, and without sacrificing comprehension and information retention.
What kind of reading lends itself to speed reading?
You obviously don’t need to speed read a novel. But again, if you do, we won’t tell. Speed reading can be used for a variety of non-fiction texts and it’s a proven method of saving hours of reading time.
What techniques are the most prevalent?
The basic approach to speed reading is first to eliminate counterproductive reading habits such as subvocalisation, word-by-word reading, regression, and limited eye-fixation.
Practicing to speed read means you develop speed readings habits like these:
- Chunking, or reading in sets of words rather than word by word.
- Eliminating subvocalisation, or getting rid of that voice in your head (that might also come out of your mouth).
- Using your finger or a ruler for forcing oneself to read faster.
Other popular techniques include using speed reading software or enrolling in a speed reading course, and creating a reading-friendly environment.
This is the most common and extremely efficient method for speed reading. And while it seems as though you’re wasting time, it actually saves you a lot of time as you focus on the text parts that matter.
Previewing doesn’t just happen, it is a process you need to be very conscious of as it requires a lot of concentration to actually benefit from it.
How does previewing facilitate speed reading?
Previewing is going through key parts of a text. If you’re reading a book, ideally you’ll preview the contents page, the blurb, chapter names and sub-headlines, any tables or graphs, conclusions or bullet-point lists, thematic sentences and so forth.
Take thematic sentences for instance; as their name suggests, the first sentence contains in condensed form the theme, or main point, of a paragraph or a chapter. So there you have it, you get the gist of a 15-page long chapter, just by reading the first two sentences of it.
Previewing means scanning through a text for all the key sentences, important names and numerical facts, significant keywords, or concepts. This pre-taste of a text ensures that when you actually speed read your text, you will already have a basic understanding of what to look for, what’s it about, and what is there to learned.
Previewing essentially means knowing all the tricks and shortcuts. Knowing where the meaningful, critical bits and pieces of a text are. It’s smart reading redefined to fit our digital era.