If you’re interested in speed reading, there’s one thing that you really need to understand beforehand. Speed reading works differently with different kinds of subject matter. Text that contains a great deal of detailed information, especially lots of facts, will take time to read through, no matter what. Of course, even here there are physical techniques that can improve your reading speed, but don’t expect to do much more than double your reading speed if you’re reading scientific texts, for example. Legal contracts, where the meaning can hinge on a turn of phrase, are even worse, though an experienced lawyer could effectively speed read many of those.
However, when it comes to books, whether self help books or works of ficton, you’ll find that speed reading can increase your reading speed by as much as five times or more. And with text that has an even lower level of detail, such as newspapers and non-technical magazines, you could increase your reading speed even further.
In short, what I’m trying to say is that speed reading relies on physical methods of reading and methods of altering how your brain processes information, and the more detailed the information being processed, the closer the effectiveness of speed reading is reduced to the level of ‘normal’ reading.
Now, one of the best ways to quickly absorb a book is to peruse it’s table of contents – they will not only give you a general idea of the subject matter, but will also allow you to get an immediate idea of which chapters are more important than others. A similar technique can be used in the case of the chapters themselves. If a chapter has distinctive sub-headings, for example, going through these before actually commencing to read the chapter will give you a good idea of the gist of the chapter, and an idea of which sections are more important, and which might just be skimmed over.
Now to the actual physical method – the core of speed reading is to take in more words at a glance. First of all, be sure that you have no issues with your eye sight. A great many people think that their reading speed is slow when they simply need glasses.
Now, what you have to do is to keep the text some distance from your eyes so that you can take in larger chunks of it. Allow your eyes to flow over the page, not necessarily from left to right, but even backwards and forwards or even diagonally if necessary. Your mind will automatically pick up the most important text and words on the page, and you will put these into memory.
You won’t believe just how fast you can go over non-intensive text using these methods. Of course you’re going to have to put in quite a bit of practice before you completely master these methods. But if you use these in conjunction with the techniques of analysis I mentioned earlier (going over the table of contents and subheadings, for example) there’s no reason why your reading speed shouldn’t increase by a factor of between three to five times.
Of course, elaborated in this short article are just one or two methods of speed reading – there are many more, and a good speed reading course should cover them all, allowing you to pick and choose which methods suit you best and work best for you.