Tricks of the Trade: Two Essential Tips for Speed Reading

Have you read my old article “Double Your Reading Speed Now?” If not, you might want to try it out for tips on faster reading techniques. The suggestions below are ways to enhance your practice of speed reading techniques you already know.

However, I want to point out that these tips will work without the use of any special speed reading techniques. In fact, the two tips below are a natural way of increasing reading speed. No expensive coursework required.

1. Practice your reading techniques on simple material and gradually increase the complexity.

It’s difficult enough to learn techniques of hand pacing and word grouping and other systems for building reading speed. If you’re going build new skills, at least do it on easy material.

And, when I say easy or simple material, I mean stuff like children’s literature. You could even start with Little Golden Books. Really. I had a friend who took a speed reading course from one of the best-known providers (many years ago), and at that time, this is exactly what they recommended. I tried it with quite a number of students when I was teaching Psychology of Learning, and it worked quite well.

Of course, you wouldn’t want to use very simple stuff for very long. You should increase the reading difficulty level at least every week or so until you find the best level for you. When your ability to use the techniques is well-established, you can start applying them to more and more complex material.

2. Read a lot. The more you read, the faster you get.

You need to actually like to read to get faster. So read fiction, especially in your favorite genre. Unlike non-fiction, most moder fictions is designed to be read quickly. Popular authors know that one of the things that makes them popular is they have a nice, easy flow.

Lots of folks get public domain downloads of books from the internet and print them to read. After all, why spend extra money on books for practice? But, many classics are harder because they were written in a time when few people could or did read. Most readers were well-educated intellectuals. So, if you’re going to use public domain classics while building your reading speed, read something like Sherlock Holmes stories. They were written to be popular.

People who read fast naturally have built their skills exactly by following the two methods I’ve suggested here. They started with a love of reading, usually at a young age. They read as much of their favorite reading matter as time would allow, gradually increasing the range and complexity of what they read. Eventually they could read anything — as long as they had the basis for understanding the material — at a speed well above average.

The good news is that you don’t have to start at an early age to become a natural speed reader. You can simply start with the same materials you would have used at an earlier age and build quickly to matter that is more appropriate to your age and education. As you may imagine, you won’t have to put in the years that people who got it “organically” did. Just a matter of weeks.

In the long run, though, you’ll still have to do a great deal of reading to keep up the speed and continue to build it. Use it or lose it.