Many people don’t realize just how much they could possibly increase their reading speed. It’s possible that they don’t realize the awesome potential of the human mind. Let’s put it this way – your brain processes information through networks of synapses. Now, these networks can be virtually infinite, meaning that if humans could only tap into this power, the potential of the human mind is virtually infinite. This makes the human mind very adaptable.
You’ll see an example of this in everyday life. When you are in your latter school years, your reading speed averages around 200 words per minute or so. Then, when you go to university, your mind finds that it has to process a great deal more information. So what happens? Your brain adapts – and your speed doubles. Yes, studies have shown that people in university average not two hundred, but four hundred words a minute when they read. Just like that, without even any conscious effort or scientific techniques being applied, their speed is doubled. Then they leave university, and that stress is no longer put on the mind, so it relaxes, and their reading speeds drop back to the original levels.
My point is that with determination and practice, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t massively increase your reading speed. Training your reading speed is just like working out in the gym. The more you work your muscles, the better they work, and it’s the same with reading – the more you work at it, the better you get at it.
One of the first things you need to learn how to do if you want to speed read is a technique called Sight Reading. Sight reading begins with an increase in the span of what your eye sees as you read. For example, most people focus on each word – but as I speed read down a page, my eyes move diagonally, automatically picking out the most important words in a paragraph and making sense of what the paragraph says without even actually reading it at all.
My eye spans not a single word, but instead, the entire width of the page. And my mind latches on to the crucial words automatically, allowing me to skim over less important text while still absorbing the gist of it. So what happens when I hit a patch of text that is really important? Why, I slow down, of course, and read it at a much slower speed, filing it into my mind as something really important. And then I continue on at the original speed. Using this technique allows me to read at many times the speed of the average person, and there’s no reason why you can’t do it too.
Use newspapers to practice this technique. They have slim columns the width of which you can easily take in at a glance. Run down the column, taking in each line with a glance. As you practice, you’ll find that you begin to pick out the important words, and that you finish a column faster. Before you know it, so long as you put in sufficient practice, you’ll find that your reading speed has tripled. Once you master speed reading newspapers, you can go on to other kinds of text, gradually increasing the complexity of the subject matter.
Remember, this is just a beginning, just one of the ways in which you can increase your reading speed, but it’s a good one. Because, whatever your field, the ability to quickly assimilate and comprehend information gives you a most unfair advantage over less gifted competitors. And there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make use of that.