Speed reading: how to double your knowledge
Imagine being able to double your knowledge in just 9 months. I didn’t believe it at first but it turned out it is actually possible.
Let me tell you a story about how I learned speed reading. Back in 2012, I used to read a book within a month or more. Or let me be honest with you, chances are I would never finish that book. Yet, one single piece of information changed everything. I learned from Christian Godefroy, a French author specialized in self-development that we can double our knowledge in 9 months. How? If we apply speed reading and learn the techniques.
After that “aha-moment”, I immediately delved deeper into the topic and waouh, that changed my life! For the first time in 20 years, I started to read regularly. I think it was really the first time I read personal development content as well.
Learning speed reading and how to do it help because we read much faster while retaining the important aspects of a text. Note that fast reading concerns only people who are already literate and exclude in this case people who can’t read.
The information era and why it is important to read quickly
There is a rapid growth of the amount of information around us, especially with the development of the Internet and the media. Speed reading methods help to distill the mass of information, whether you are a student or a professional.
Do you know how many words per minute you read right now? What if you double, triple that speed? It’s been said that absorbing new information is the super skill of this new decade; so learning how to read fast remains a crucial skill to master. It is important to set goals ourselves at first.
Quick reading techniques are really effective and simple to implement. But like any learning, they require small discipline and effort to be mastered.
Speed reading: how to shut the little voice inside your head and get rid of subvocalization:
Try to do this very simple exercise: go on YouTube, choose any motivational video or audiobook and set the speed at 2:00 x. You have a hard time understanding what you hear? What if you quadrupled the speed? Setting it at 4:00 x? You wouldn’t understand anything!
Actually, the human ear cannot understand words if they are spoken beyond a certain speed.
The same happens when we try to pronounce each sentence as we read: we will never be able to read faster than you speak.
When we read aloud, we tend to speak from 125 to 150 words per minute. Can you imagine how much time it would take if you read at this level? I don’t know but too much time which equals to not finish the book and just getting bored while reading.
So yes, if you pronounce the sentences you read inside, you will never be able to read faster than you speak. This pitfall has a name: subvocalization.
A bad habit we learned back in school
We learned to read around 6 years old. The teacher asked and we started to decipher the syllables one by one. After this, we decoded and pronounced the words one by one. Getting used to this, we not only read the words in a book one by one, but also subvocalize.
Speed reading exercise: Move your eyes intelligently
Our eye doesn’t follow each line of text in a linear way, from left to right. Research has shown that the eye makes small jumps with subtle but incessant reversals as we read. Subsequently, we waste a lot of time going back and forth on words we have already seen.
Memorize better by reading quickly: unleash the full potential of your brain
How many people complain because they can’t focus on their reading? Countless times, it happened to me: I read a few pages of a great personal development book. But sooner or later, my mind had gone elsewhere. I go back but this repeats again and again. At the end of the day, I no longer remember the text.
Actually, if you read too slowly, your brain gets “bored” and has trouble focusing on reading. Our mind then tends to go elsewhere.
As a solution, speed reading techniques help your mind focus. It can improve your concentration and understanding at the same time.
Two concrete actions we can take to double our current reading speed
We have two choices: we can stay at our current reading speed and take the risk to miss valuable information around us; or we can adapt and develop that skill.
a) Use a visual guide to read quickly
The use of visual guides gives the eye a reference on where to stay on the text. You then avoid returning back and forth on what you already read. This simple technique is so simple yet so powerful and it can significantly increase your reading speed. For example, we can use a simple pointing guide such as a pencil or a chopstick (yes, I lived in China for 2 years, lol).
b) Stop reading word by word: unleash the potential of block reading
One of the biggest myths about reading is that we have to read each word, one by one, and if possible pronounce that word in our mind (subvocalization). Nothing could be further from the truth. If you read in blocks of words you instantly double your reading speed!
To get started, place your visual guide in the center of the blocks and read the whole sentence maybe 3 words at once or 4. Then try 5 by 5. With a little practice you will gradually increase the size of the blocks and your reading speed.
Applying fast reading techniques, I clearly remember I had a comparative advantage in comprehension. It helped me learn new languages as well. In a German proficiency test, I finished reading the full text twice while the other students were still struggling, some of them subvocalizing what they read.