Reading is just looking at something, right? Essentially, all that is required is that the person uses their eyes and fixes them on an open page. However, as any school teacher can tell you, reading is a skill.
Learning how to speed read is not easy at all. We form rigid habits when we first learn to read, which can be hard to overcome.
Here are just a few generalized guidelines that could help.
Humans are not a piece of word processing software. Our body works by receiving input from our senses and projecting them inside our minds. The images we see are displayed and edited by the mind.
Our brain does its best to edit out certain details such as blind spots, blinking, and depth is calculated by overlapping input from both eyes. When reading, another factor must be considered: our inside voice.
We all hear a voice in our head when we think, we don’t just think in images. When seeing the word “car” on a page, you pronounce that word with your mind, and then a picture forms.
Given that we tend to mirror our real-life voice with our thoughts, a critical flaw appears: pronouncing takes time. But that flaw is more or less an illusion. Real-life pronunciation takes time because lips have to move, and sound has to travel.
However, thoughts are instant. It is possible for those who wish to learn to speedread, for a word to be seen, without being enunciated by the mind. By not repeating a text and just “seeing” a word, you will save a lot of time.
Most people with office jobs do this every day when reading emails. We sometimes receive emails that are not too important. As a result, we just skim them to make sure we’re not missing something vital.
Skimming happens by default, on instinct. Professional speed readers can do it on purpose, for as long as is required. For example, support staff at GlobeNewswire.com often pick up speed reading by having to process many requests and emails regarding the essay writing help.
After the initial discomfort has passed, your speed reading will improve. You just have to get used to not wasting time.
I do not know if every school in the world did this, but tracing the writing with a physical object was one of the first-speed reading techniques.
The teacher used to write something on the blackboard, and then use a pointer to underline each word as it was being read. In turn, we the students used to keep track of words with our fingers.
Why is this effective? Well, as you attempt to read faster than is comfortable for you, you can easily lose your place. Paragraphs can get rather long, and everything sort of blends together in a blur.
You waste a lot of time trying to relocate your line. The tracing method is an easy solution to that problem, as it can save you a lot of trouble.
Are you attempting to speed-read a physical copy of a book or electronic document? The answer to this question matters, as most documents can be edited.
Microsoft Word or Google Docs lets you modify the spacing, the font, and the font size. Also, you can better separate paragraphs. Whatever makes you more comfortable is possible.
The idea is to add more variety and make each letter easier to read and more distinguishable.
You can reserve the right to color bits of text and group them. Of course, this change can be applied only as you learn speed reading. If you are interested in any sort of competition, these types of aids will be off the table.
There is also specialized software such as Spreeder, which has made an entire business model out of helping you to read faster.
The software fixes your gaze on a single point and flashes the words of a text in order. This cuts out every bit of wasted time. It feels more like looking at pictures than reading.
You are spared from scanning the text, losing your place, or any other extra step.
A whole other process is triggered in your brain. You are not reading, you are recognizing words. And recognition is instant. When you see a tree, you don’t stop to think to yourself “Hmmm, a tree”. You just notice it and move on.
This doesn’t teach you how to shorten an essay, write poetry, or become more creative. It is a simple piece of software that maximizes your performance in this area.
Try to minimize eye movement
Humans are animals, and animals move because of muscles. This also applies to your eyes, and having to move them around too much can cause severe eye strain.
In essence, our natural habitat would rarely have us dart our eyes back and forth for hours at a time. Reading is in some sense unnatural, a tool developed after our bodies evolved. Given that our most important sense organs are so prone to fatigue, a good speed reader will try to eliminate that fatigue.
If possible, try to enlarge the font and stand back. If you do this, the text will look like a whole picture that can fit into your vision. Sitting close to the screen has the opposite effect. Sure, you see the text better, but at the cost of not seeing it all at once. This guarantees that your eyes have to travel back and forth.
Similar to our previous point, this tip is for beginners. A competition of college events will rarely allow modifications of the text.
You have to be a reader
Here we have a chicken or the egg question. Do speed readers read a lot of books because they are fast, or are they fast because they liked reading in the first place? Did the talent create the hobby, or did the hobby create the talent?
The best speed readers often pursue normal reading for fun, in their spare time. Even though you are not doing it on purpose, you are passively improving your abilities by just slowly reading a book.
Sure, I would not recommend this course of action for more profound works, where each line can have an essay written about it. But, in general, to more you read anything, the more your mind will become accustomed to the general activity.
Fast reading tips are fine, but they are useless if you don’t practice.
Speed readers are good at treating text as a picture. You do not read a picture, you just look at it and recognize it.
Reading is another process in the mind, where your inner voice repeats what your eyes see, and this gives you time to marinate and imagine. This slower way is much better in terms of understanding and grasping the ideas of the text.
However, if your goal is speed, you can use tricks and software to activate this twitch recognition part of your brain.