To be competitive and good in ones chosen profession, one needs to be up-to-date on what is happening in his/her field. One has to keep abreast of the latest developments and emerging technologies. In today’s information era, information workers need to read to do justice to their profession—they should have current and accurate information about their area(s) of specialization. They should be aware of the latest developments and trends in their chosen field. One should also have a reasonably good awareness about what is happening in the world. For all these one should have the ability to read, absorb and assimilate the information that is available from myriad sources—newspapers, journals, magazines, electronic newsletters, e-zines, web sites, and so on.
Today we are not faced with lack of information; instead we are faced with information overload. In this age of information explosion we are bombarded with information. So we must develop skills and formulate sound strategies to deal with the information explosion. We should develop the ability to wade through the vast ocean of information available and zero in on the information that we need.
We should improve our reading speeds. We should develop skills that will help us read faster so we can cover more materials in less time. But improving reading speed should not be at the expense of comprehension. If you double or triple your reading speed while your level of understanding goes down, then there is no point in reading faster, because you won’t be able to recall or remember anything that you have read at those high speeds.
An average reader reads 200 words per minute (wpm). But if one practices speed-reading he can increase his reading speed to 600wpm or even 800wpm. The amazing fact about speed-reading is that even when you triple or quadruple your reading speeds, your level of comprehension will improve or at least will remain at the same level when you were reading at 200wpm. Speed reading is a skill that can be developed by practicing the correct way of reading.
Most of us have low reading speeds because of the incorrect reading methods that we practice. These bad habits include reading either letter-by-letter or at best word-by-word, vocalization (reading aloud), subvocalization (moving your lips while reading), inner-vocalization (pronouncing the words in your mind while reading), high fixation time (the time you take to move from one word or group of words to the next when reading), low fixation span (the number of words that you read at a time when you are reading) and so on. You may also notice that you don’t always proceed from one block of words to the next—sometimes you may move back to a preceding block of words if you are unsure about something. These disruptions to the forward flow of reading are called ‘skip-backs‘ or regression.
There are other bad habit like moving your head from one side to the other while reading (pendulum movement), difficulty in finding the beginning of the next line when you have finished a line (poor line fixation), taking your own time to come to the starting point of a new line once you have finished a line (slow recovery time) and so on.
Another biggest problem is poor levels of comprehension caused by the inability to concentrate or focus on the material that you are reading. Only if you get rid of the bad reading habits that you can increase your reading speed and improve your comprehension thereby increasing your ability to recall what you have read.
By learning speed reading, you can increase your reading speeds without compromising on your comprehension. This means you can assimilate more knowledge in less time, which gives you more time to read more or for other activities.
A word of caution… Speed reading is not suitable for all kinds of reading. Some material requires slow, careful reading and taking notes to comprehend and understand things. Text with large numbers of complex mathematical concepts or equations, for example, needs to be read many times, slowly. Written material describing a complex ideas or concepts may be too complicated to be understood quickly.
Another danger of trying to read at very high speeds is that as you increase your speed, you decrease your comprehension. As Woody Allen put it: “I took a speed reading course and read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It involves Russia.” Many speed reading courses claims to make you read over 25000wpm, which is impossible. Many speed reading courses also suggests it is possible to read at these extremely high speeds without sacrificing understanding. Innumerable research studies have demonstrated it as impossible.
Speed reading poetry will not improve one’s appreciation of it, partly because in reading it too quickly, one loses much of the nuance of poetical meter. This is also true if you try to recite poetry at 700wpm. Speed reading tends to be a useful technique for light material such as easy-reading novels or magazine columns. It is also good for selecting material for reading—for separating the good and important from the boring and trivial.
The best idea is to learn speed reading and then use it wisely—you don’t have read everything at 1000wpm because you can. Use the speed reading to eliminate the bad reading habits. Use a perfect reading technique, but read at a rate appropriate for the appreciation of what you are reading.
Read like driving a car, accelerating, decelerating and even stopping depending on the situation. This is possible only if you have the powerful car. One cannot go at 100mph on a bullock cart!
Given below are some links to speed reading resources:
Speed Reading Articles and Links
- Double your Reading Speed Now!
- ERCS Speed Reading Articles
- How to Increase your Reading Speed ?
- Reading Strategies: SQ3R Method
- Speed Reading Software, Articles and Tips
- Speed Reading Techniques
Speed reding product sites where you can test your reading speed
Speed Reading Software Products