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The Blog

Speed Reading Skills – Their importance and how knowledge attracts

And here’s another reason why speed reading skills are so important.

When you’re the type of person who can easily gain knowledge, people are naturally more attracted to you.  Not so much in a physical way; but socially.  Think about it.  When you’re out somewhere, do you gravitate towards the person who’s dull and boring and has very little to say?  Or do you settle in beside the person who engages you and others with interesting tid-bits of information?

If you hang out with the people who have little to say, maybe it’s because you have little to say and that’s where you feel most comfortable.  If that’s what you do, don’t worry.  You have what it takes to change that.  You have me, and these speed reading posts, and most important of all, you have a desire to change.

Whenever your desire starts to wane, don’t let it.  You have to stick to your guns. Like it or not, or agree with me or not, if you lack knowledge, people will exclude you.  Sadly, that’s true.  Aside from close friends and family, you might find that most people won’t want to be around you.

And it gets worse than that.  If you’re a slow reader, you may be preventing yourself from attaining a position of power.

I’m going to pause for a moment and let you think about that.

Now think about this.  Reading and learning are skills. They’re not something you either get or you don’t get when you are born.  They’re learned.  And that means absent any physical or mental conditions, you have the same capacity to read and learn as everyone else in the world does.

Did you hear what I just said?  Let me repeat.

I said speed reading and learning are skills.  Therefore, like any skill, whether it’s basketball or figure skating or speaking a foreign language, with a desire, dedication and a lot of practice, it is possible for you to improve your ability to read and learn.

I already know you have the desire to become a better reader because you’re listening to me and getting ready to learn new techniques.  I will help you improve your abilities by teaching you a number of exercises that are designed to help you read faster and comprehend more.

In order to achieve results, you’ll have to dedicate some time acquiring the necessary skills for speed reading.

Practice is the only way you will remember the techniques I’ve taught and it’s the only way you can improve your reading and comprehension abilities.

By taking time to practice, you will become better and faster reader.  And as a result, you will gain more knowledge.

Video Version of Post
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDoR4dHYEWI[/youtube]

Speed Reading and Comprehension

Do you know what it’s going to take to get ahead?

If you want to get ahead in today’s world, you need more knowledge than the guy sitting next to you.  And even that’s not enough.  You actually need to acquire more knowledge than everyone who’s competing for the same jobs as you, for the same deals as you, and even the same partners as you.

Why?

Because in today’s world, knowledge is power.

You might not realize this, but the more you read, the more knowledge you acquire.  It’s true and it’s really that simple.  Reading is the gateway to more knowledge.

Did you read the newspaper today?  If you did, did you learn something that you didn’t know before you started reading the newspaper?  Maybe you learned the name of some newly elected official.  Or maybe you learned about a new program being offered in your community.  Or maybe there was a special feature about how to prepare your yard for Spring.

The point is, if you didn’t know about the information before, you just learned it. And you learned it by simply picking up the newspaper and spending maybe 20 or 30 minutes reading about it; maybe even less.  Once you learn speed reading techniques, it’ll definitely be less.

Let me point out something else before moving on.  Acquiring new knowledge involves more than just reading.  You also need to be able to comprehend what you read.  Then you need the ability to retain all of that newly learned information, PLUS be able to recall it when you need it.

But don’t worry.  Learning to speed read will help you develop not only your reading speed, but all of these other skills as well.  Together, your improved comprehension, retention and recollection skills will help you gain even more knowledge than you already have, and help you gain it more quickly and with better comprehension than you were able to before.  You’ll see.

This is why I think learning to speed read is so important.  I hope you’ll agree.

Video Version of Post
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S003r-9d2j4[/youtube]

Reading Speed, Spelling, and Vocabulary

If you want to read fast, a good vocabulary (and to a lesser extent spelling) is essential. Studies show that those with better vocabularies not only read faster, they also have better comprehension.

You can also look at it another way. Not knowing a word will dramatically slow down your otherwise fast reading.

If you want to improve your vocabulary and spelling there are lots of free and paid solutions available. eReflect’s vocabulary builder “Ultimate Vocabulary” is a popular solution. There is also a spelling software version of this product called Ultimate Spelling.

In terms of free solutions, Improving Vocabulary.ORG has some excellent free info that you can put to use right away. There are also lots of great vocabulary videos youtube.

Learning to Speed Read – Why it’s important

Maybe you’re still unsure about learning to speed read and the impact it will have on various aspects of your life.  If so, you’ll enjoy this post.  In this post, I’m going to show you exactly why speed reading is so important and how reading faster will dramatically improve your life.  So for now, sit back, relax and listen as I explain why I think speed reading is important.

Let’s get started.

You don’t need me to tell you we live in a time of information overload.  Everywhere you look you’re bombarded with information telling you what to buy, how to install new software, who to elect, what to eat, habits you should break, skills you do and don’t need, the list goes on.

You see this information everywhere you look – on TV, online, on magazine stands and bookshelves, on product brochures, on airplanes and trains, in the newspaper, and even in the doctor’s office.

But that’s not all.  Think about how much information you need just to do your job, or even to get a job.  If you’re in school, the amount of information you’re expected to learn and retain increases with each passing year.  If you decide to go on to college, you’ll spend 2, 3, 4 hours or more every single day doing nothing but reading – and hopefully learning, too!

I don’t think any of you would argue that information is everywhere we turn.  And not only that, there always seems to be some new way of delivering it to the masses.

I’m even willing to say that there’s far too much information to take in and not nearly enough time to absorb it all.  And for many of us, that’s a problem. An inability to take in all of the information that’s important, whether instructional or entertaining or otherwise, can quickly become frustrating and overwhelming.  It can even make the smartest among us feel inadequate.

Here’s something else that might make you feel inadequate.

The average person reads about 250 words per minute.  That sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t.  It’s not nearly fast enough to assimilate all of the information you’re presented with while in school or performing your job, or just living your life.

Believe it or not, that impressive-sounding reading speed of 250 words per minute puts you at a great disadvantage.  Even if you learn to speed read as many as 300 to 400 words every minute, you still may not reading fast enough to get ahead in today’s highly competitive and information-packed world.

Video Version of Post
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFgJigB-rLM[/youtube]

Increase Reading Speed by Using Both Sides of the Brain

The next tip I want to share with you is different than all the rest.  Instead of offering advice on breaking old reading habits and flexing your eye muscles, this last tip focuses on something entirely different.

Before I get into my discussion, let me start by asking a question.  When you think about speed reading, what comes to mind?  If you’re like most people, your thoughts probably center around speed.  After all, you aren’t learning to slow read; you already know how to do that.  You’re here because you want to learn how to speed read.

It’s natural to think increasing speed reading is all about reading as fast as you can.  The faster you read, the faster you can finish a book or whatever it is you’re reading.  And the faster you finish, the quicker you can start another one, right?

But hold on a minute because there’s something else that’s important to understand about speed reading:  It isn’t only about speed!

Surprised?

If you are, let me ask you another question.  What good would it do you to read at speeds in excess of 5-, 6- or 700-words per minute if you don’t understand much of anything that you read?  It does you no good at all!

If you read but don’t comprehend, you will not have gained any knowledge.  You likely will not have gained any enjoyment either, but that’s a topic for another day.  If you haven’t gained any knowledge, you won’t have anything new to store in your knowledge bank.  And knowledge that can’t be stored can’t be retrieved for use later on.

The point being made here is simple:  Without comprehension, all the speed in the world won’t do you one bit of good.  You won’t gain any knowledge.  You won’t gain an edge over your competition.  You won’t be able to impress anyone in your social circle.

What you will do is something I warned you about earlier.  When you read but don’t comprehend you will fall back into the habit of regressing.  Do you remember what regressing is?  It’s going back and rereading information you’ve already read!  Regression wastes time and defeats the whole purpose of speed reading.  That’s not something you want to do, is it?

What you want to do instead is engage the other side of your brain.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to develop your comprehension skills while developing reading speed is to learn how to visualize.  Some people already do a pretty good job at this.  They’re usually the people who have an easier time following written directions.  As they read along, they’re able to create a mental image of themselves performing the task being described.  They do this by engaging the side of the brain that controls visualization.

You’ve probably heard reference to different sides of your brain and how the different sides control different functions.  The left side of the brain controls things like written and spoken languages, scientific ability and number skills.  The right side of the brain controls things like imagination, memorization, artistic ability and visualization.

Most people read using only their left side, which makes sense since this is the side that controls written language.   But the people who can read the fastest with the most comprehension are those who have learned how to engage both sides of their brain.

Video Version of Post
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4k_CNG2xxto[/youtube]

Learn to Speed Read by Expanding Your Field of Vision

The goal of my last tip was explaining the importance of increasing your vision span.  I told you that the easiest way to widen your vision span is to stop looking at a single word at a time and instead start learning how to look at chunks of words.  I explained that once you learn how to interpret word chunks your eyes don’t have to make as many eye fixations.  From there I went on to describe how fewer eye fixations can translate into faster reading speeds.

What I didn’t touch upon though was the role your peripheral vision plays in learning to speed read.  Your peripheral vision is more than your vision span.  It encompasses everything that your eyes can see outside their main area of focus.

Some of you might have had a reason to develop your peripheral vision.  But this is more likely another thing that most of us simply take for granted.  Chances are your vision span isn’t very wide and neither is your peripheral vision.

And that makes sense.  If you’ve been reading the same way all of your life, you haven’t really had any reason to expand your peripheral vision.  But all that’s going to change now that you’re taking steps to increase your reading speed.

You see, widening your peripheral vision is an important part of developing speed reading skills.  When you expand your peripheral vision, you’ll be able to see more of the words that appear horizontally to the left and to the right of your central area of focus and also more of the words that appear above and below that central area of focus.

How do you enhance your peripheral vision?

The answer is simple:  Exercise.

All day long your eyes are busy receiving visual stimuli and continually focusing and refocusing on whatever it is they’re looking at.  Even as you’re sitting there listening to me, your eyes are working hard and you probably don’t even realize it.

What’s doing a lot of that work are the six muscles attached to each of your eyes.  These muscles control all of the movements your eyes make including the movements that make your eyes look up, down, and all around.  Eye muscles also help your eyes focus on near objects and objects far away.

The only time you ever really notice your eye muscles is when your eyes feel strained.  Those eye twitches, watery eyes, and burning sensations are some of the signs that your eye muscles are tired and need a break.

Just like any other muscle in your body, exercise helps your eye muscles gain strength and flexibility.  And just like other muscles, there are specially designed exercises that help build eye muscles strength and flexibility.

Why should you care about exercising your eye muscles?

Because the only way you’ll be reaching and sustaining reading speeds of 700word per minute and more is by exercising them.  The stronger your eye muscles are, the more work they can handle before tiring.  And the more flexible they are, the wider you can stretch your peripheral vision.

Follow along as I teach you a simple eye exercise designed to help build eye muscle flexibility:

To start, sit or stand and focus your vision straight ahead.  Next stretch each hand out to the side like you used to do when pretending you were an airplane.  Stick each thumb up towards the sky and hold that pose.

Now, keeping your head straight, move your eyes to the right until you can see your thumb.  If you can’t quite see it, just stretch your eyes as far to the right side as you can.  Then glance to the left while making sure you keep your head still and facing straight ahead.  Continue glancing right to left and left to right nine more times.  Repeat the sequence of 10 glances to each side for a total of three sets.  That’s it!

Video Version of Post
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrAXtTSVstc[/youtube]

To Improve Reading Speed You Must Resist Regression

I already told you that breaking existing habits is a key part of learning how to improve your reading speed.  I told you about subvocalization and how much saying words as you read them slows your reading speed.  I also showed you how easy it is to break this habit simply by occupying your mouth with some other task.

Now I’m going to tell you about another reading habit that wastes about a third of every hour you spend reading.  Yes that’s right – about 20 minutes out of every hour!

The habit is called regression and like I said, it’s a HUGE time waster.  The thing to remember about regression though, is that it sometimes comes in handy.  So you shouldn’t completely eliminate it from your reading arsenal.  But you do need to learn how to control it, especially if your goal is to improve reading speed.

Regression is the process of re-reading text that you’ve already read.  It goes by other names including back-skipping, re-reading, and going back over what you’ve read.  Whatever you call it, regression is like taking two steps forward with your eyes and one step back – and sometimes, a lot more than one step back; like when you go back and re-read an entire page or worse, an entire chapter!

If you ever have an opportunity to observe someone while they read to themselves, pay close attention to their eyes and you might be able to catch regression in action.  As you watch that person’s eyes you will probably see them moving in a forward direction at a pretty good clip.  And then suddenly, for no apparent reason, you’ll see the eyes twitch backwards.  If you keep observing, you’ll likely see this process repeat itself over and over again.

Like I said a few moments ago, regression is a habit that can seriously slow your reading speed.  And not only that, regression disrupts your concentration.  You’ve probably never thought about it, but reading isn’t all that matters.  You also have to comprehend what you read.  Without comprehension, reading is a wasted effort.

A lack of concentration, whether real or perceived, is one reason you might regress when you read.  For some reason you don’t trust your brain’s ability to comprehend the material, so just to be sure you go back and read the information again.  What you don’t realize is that re-reading is the more likely cause of reduced comprehension because it interferes with the proper flow and meaning of the words.

Subvocalization can also cause regression for the simple reason that your eyes usually move faster than the mouth.  When the difference between what your eyes see and your mouth reads becomes too much, comprehension falters.  Regression might also be a form of compulsive behavior.

No matter why you regress, you can free yourself from the regression habit.

All you need is a plain white or colored card that’s as wide as the column of text you plan to read.  Just be sure it’s blank because any writing will distract your eyes.  Now all you do is pull the card up as you read so that the text you’ve already read is covered by the card.  With the text covered up and out of sight, you’re less tempted to go back and reread.  The less you back-track, the quicker you’ll break the regression habit.

Once you break this habit, feel free to ditch this visual aid because I plan to show you newer ways to reduce regression.

Ok – that’s it for today. Stay tuned for more speed reading tips coming soon.

Video Version of Post

How to Speed Read by Making Changes to Your Fixations

I’ve given you a lot of speed reading information in a very short amount of time.  Hopefully you’re beginning to realize that speed reading isn’t as mysterious as you previously thought.  All it really involves is breaking old habits and learning new techniques.  Once successful, you’ll read faster and with better comprehension than you ever have before.

But that’s not all.  Speed reading with better comprehension helps you gain more knowledge.  And more knowledge gives you an edge over your competition; something that’s crucial to getting ahead and achieving your goals.

Moving on, I want to share with you something that’s not necessarily a habit.  But it does slow reading speed so it needs to be addressed before you can increase your reading speed.  It’s called fixation and it’s pretty interesting.

Fixation is really nothing more than a fancy word for focus.  Trying to focus is something your eyes do continually throughout each day.  Most of us take our eyes’ ability to focus for granted, not realizing just how important this ability is to our sense of vision.

Fixation plays a key role in our ability to read, too.  If you recall from my talk about subvocalization, it’s the all important first step.  First the eyes fixate on or see a word, then the mouth says the word, then the ears hear the word and finally the brain registers the word.

When you read, your eyes don’t only fixate.  They’re actually in continual motion, so along with eye fixations are eye jumps.  Eye jumps are intermittent rapid eye movements that take place in between every eye fixation.  Together eye fixations and eye jumps cause the eye to continually focus and refocus as you read.

In a single line of text twenty words long, your eyes probably fixate and jump about eighteen times per line!  That’s because you still read word-for-word and your eyes are in the habit of focusing on a single word at time.  Although eye stops and jumps occur so fast you don’t even realize it, the fact that they happen so frequently causes a slowdown in reading speed.

To help you get a clearer picture of what’s happening, imagine a horse pulling a carriage through the streets surrounding Central Park.  Those horses wear blinders to keep their eyes focused straight ahead.  Without those blinders, the horses would have a bigger vision span. Seeing all the activity going on around them would spook them and endanger tourists. Blinders narrow the horse’s vision and keep horse moving safely, but slowly.

Luckily for us, we’re not horses walking around Central Park.  We’re humans looking for a way to improve our reading speed.  And one of the easiest ways to do this is by taking off our blinders so we can increase our vision span and focus on more words in a single fixation.

How do we do that?

One way is to start reading chunks of words instead of a single word at a time.  Once you learn to how to chunk words together to form thoughts that your brain understands, your reading speed automatically increases – and so does your comprehension.  When you read in chunks, your eyes only have to make a few fixations, instead of the eighteen or so that happen when reading one word at a time. Effective word chunking requires learning how to identify the right balance of words so that the chunks make sense to you.

Video Version of Post
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5IFvFJbNKs[/youtube]

How to Read Faster by Eliminating Subvocalization

Welcome to your first speed reading power tip. This post is one in a whole series that we’re going to be releasing for free over the next few weeks. What I’m going to be doing in these posts is teaching you some of the techniques and methods we’ve discovered  that will help you read up to three times faster… and comprehend more.

If you can learn to break old reading habits and adopt new techniques, you can learn how to read faster.  It really is that easy.

Let’s face it.  The reading habits you use now have been with you a long, long time.  Most were developed around the same time you first learned to read.  Do you remember when that was?  First, second, maybe third grade?

And not only that, the first time you learned how to read was likely the only time in your life you learned how to read.  Since then your vocabulary has increased and you’ve been able to read more difficult material.  But how you read likely hasn’t changed.

Here’s a perfect example of what I mean.

If I asked you to read a paragraph you’d probably start on the left side of the page and read each sentence one word at a time.  At the end of each line, your eyes would wrap back around to the left and continue reading the next line word-for-word.  As you read, your lips might move and if you listen closely, you might even hear yourself saying each of the words.

Is this how you do it?

If you were taught to read by sounding out words, the answer likely is yes.  There isn’t anything wrong to this method of learning.  In fact it’s very effective for first-time readers and it’s the way most kids are still taught today.  Once you learn all of the sounds, you can apply that knowledge to pronounce any word.

The problem is, this technique, which has become a habit, limits how fast you can read.  We call this habit subvocalization and when you do it, you engage not only your eyes and your brain, but also your mouth and your ears.

Here’s what happens when you subvocalize:

  • Your eyes are busy seeing the words
  • Your mouth is busy saying the words your eyes see.  You’re either moving your lips or saying the words in your mind.  Those are the voices inside your head.
  • When you say something your ears naturally want in on the action so they tune in to hear what you are saying.
  • While your eyes, mouth and ears are doing all that work, your brain is busy trying to make sense of all of the input it’s receiving.  Your brain helps you understand what you read.

As you can see, that’s a lot of work!  And it’s also very inefficient.

When you say words as you read them, it is impossible to read any faster than you can talk.  Later on when you learn how to test your reading speed, you’ll see that this amounts to a reading speed between 150 and 200 words per minute.  That sounds fast – until you realize that breaking this one habit alone can double and maybe even triple that speed.

How do you break the subvocalization habit?

One simple way is to preoccupy your mouth.  When you give your mouth something else to do while you read, you can disengage the speech mechanism in the brain, allowing what your read to go straight to your conscious awareness rather than being slowed down by your brain needing to figure out how to say the words first.

Ever hear the saying, you can’t talk and chew gum?  Next time you read, stick a piece of gum in your mouth.  Chewing gum occupies your vocal cords and helps keep your brain from pronouncing the words you read.  Humming can do the same thing.

If if you can stop saying the words in your head as you read, you will start reading faster almost immediately. But that’s only the beginning of your potential. Soon I am going to show you more strategies that will speed your reading up even more.

So stay tuned for more posts and I’ll talk to you soon.

Video Version of Post
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAEZBebH_Oc[/youtube]