Speed Reading: 5 Practical Skills That Will Launch You Forward

by Michael Pietrzak July 06, 2016

Speed Reading: 5 Practical Skills That Will Launch You Forward

For 5 weeks we look at 5 practical skills that will help you learn faster, and supercharge your personal and work life. Week 1 starts with speed reading.


The Myth

On TV, speed reading is as simple as glancing for half second at a page of a book, then turning the page.

TV also teaches that you can lose 40 pounds in 5 minutes a day, and that supermodels really dig skinny teenage boys. Actual results will vary.

Hollywood’s ideas about speed reading haven’t evolved much, but it's a powerful tool you can learn quickly to evolve your own abilities.

In a matter of days, you can triple your reading speed.

The Reality

Harry Truman said, “All leaders are readers.” Great leaders and scientific studies alike continue to show that reading is a key to success. Want to read more? Then learn this fundamental skill.

How does it actually work?  

Speed reading teaches us how to:

  1. Improve our focus
  2. Take in information faster
  3. Retain more of that information

1. Improve Your Focus

Fast reading requires your full attention and active participation.

  • Sit up straight with your feet on the floor, book on a desk centred in front of you.
  • Centre your mind. Take a few deep breaths. Tighten your muscles, then relax.
  • "Key in" to your material. Handle the book: flip through its pages, read the table of contents, the back and front flaps. Ask yourself, “What am I going to do with this information?”

2. Absorb Information Faster

Reading faster involves training your eyes and brain to process information differently.

Re-read the last sentence.  Did you hear your own voice in your mind reciting the words?

  • Learn to silence that voice. That voice is the middle-man between your eyes and brain, and it slows you down.
  • Use your index finger to underline the words as you read. This will keep your eyes and mind from wandering.
  • Harness your peripheral vision. Take the blinders off your eyes. Learn to pull the words off the page in wider phrases, rather than one or two at a time. With minimal practice your brain will get better at doing this.

3. Retain More of What You Read

There's not much value in reading faster if you don't retain it. Here's how to remember more:

  • Trust your perfect memory. Have confidence in your ability to remember.
  • Aim to grasp the subject or theme and decide how you want to use the information.
  • After reading, do something active with the material. Explaining it to someone is the best way to etch it in your mind. Writing it down is second best. Thinking about it is better than nothing.

How This Helps You

Learn to speed read and you can easily finish 10 or 20 more books in a year. It's a skill that pays for itself almost immediately in business and career success, better personal relationships, and a better understanding of the world. Over a lifetime it could mean the difference between contentment and greatness.

One piece of advice: don't speed read literature. Take your time with good fiction, and save this technique for absorbing new information like our next article, on the practical skill of mindfulness.

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Michael Pietrzak
Michael Pietrzak


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