The ultimate guide to Speed Reading
Have you ever hear of speed reading? It’s basically the ability read a larger amount of words in the same period of time. Does it work? Yes, but don’t hype about it. I’ll explain some of the science behind it.
Our eyes and mind have an expandable but limited capacity. Yes, with training you might develop sharper skills, but you’re bounded to a maximum level of progress. Becoming a speed reader is not that hard, but you must be careful of what type of “product” the internet is trying to sell you. Most of us are used to read about 300 words per minute. In other hand, speed readers claim to hit around 1,200 words per minute (wow). Some of the methods are applicable and each one of them has it’s good and bad side. Let me introduce them to you, fellow reader.
More like skipping, this method consist in jumping from crucial points of the text and literally skipping some disposable content. Glancing through the text to find important parts to read is the key.
You have twenty fingers (at least I hope so), so choose one of them as a pointer to be a guide through your text to find specific words. The main point to adopt this technique is to decrease distractions and maintain your target on specific words only to increase your speed reading.
Now, let me look you straight in the eye and tell you: “don’t you dare to hype over this”. Both of this techniques are made so you can read things faster, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be useful to you. You can’t cheat genetics. Your eye has it’s time to focus and absorb the content you’re reading, so rushing your reading rate may not be as optimal as you think. Expecting you can absorb the content of a thousand words per minute and fully comprehend the context behind it is nonsense. Don’t fool yourself with false promises of impossible/biological achievements.
This method is based of the expansion of the peripheral vision, creating the ability to read multiple lines at the same time and enhancing your focus abilities.
Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP)
This new method is becoming more and more common nowadays. Implemented by certain apps, this method shows only one word at time, and the speed the words flash on the screen is adjustable. This approach is based on the idea of maintaining the focus in only one particular area of the screen, restraining movement and endorsing the focus on the flashed words, only.
A really good app to try this technique is the Spritz. Just add it to your bookmarks, highlight a part of a web text and spritz it. Easy, simple and fairly useful. The fair use of the Spritz is that he doesn’t try to cheat the natural way of things, you can manage the speed, only use when you feel the real necessity of it and doesn’t hurt to try some new approaches to everyday errands. Here, try the Spritz on this post and see fluid it can be when used correctly.
Bottom Line: Does these techniques really work?
Depends. If you really want or need to learn something, speed reading is bad idea. Nonetheless, if a quick scan to have an overall idea of the matter in discussion is enough for you, speed read-it all the way. Use and abuse whenever you feel it’s going to be practical and helpful to you, never detrimental.