Sunday, January 15, 2012

Speed Reading: Never look Back! (literally)

Being able to digest vast amounts of information quickly is a skill that will rapidly set you apart from others.  US President Theodore Roosevelt used to read a book a day--before breakfast.  John F. Kennedy was reported being able to read 1200 words per minute. Current and past Presidents have been able to scan a policy paper and face a panel of reporters with intelligent, informed responses.  It's incredibly humbling to consider that the most harried and stressed individuals in the country are able to read recreationally as well as professionally.

The average reader reads less than 240 words per minute, stopping to go back and re-look at words 10-11 times for every 100 words read.  These are known as regressions.  A CONSCIOUS regression is the result of not understanding something particularly well and wanting to reread it.  An UNCONSCIOUS regression is the result of conscious regressions becoming habitual.
Simply eliminating regressions will improve your reading rate by at least 10%

One method is to use a pacer.  Many speed reading coaches advocate using a pencil or fingertip to keep your eyes moving fast enough so that they cannot perform unconscious regressions.  Conscious regressions are also reduced because using a finger will focus your attention and improve comprehension.

The challenge is to pick a pace that is fast enough to keep your mind from getting distracted while not so fast that you cannot understand what you are reading.

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