When Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were asked this question: “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?”, they had very similar answers:
“Being able to read super fast…” – Bill Gates
“I probably wasted 10 years of reading slowly.” – Warren Buffet
Two of the richest and most successful men on earth wished they had increased reading speed?
The answer is not very surprising though. In a world where technology is invading our lives and we constantly get bombarded with new information, it becomes harder and harder to stay up to date.
If you are leading a multi million company, the amount of challenges you have to deal with and the amount of decisions you have to make each day is just overwhelming.A skill that only a few people practiceDo you remember the last time you actively learned how to “read”?
For almost the majority of us, we stopped learning in elementary school. When we learned the alphabet and the art of combining letters into words, we stopped improving our reading skill.
Of course, we do reading on a daily basis in order to do our jobs, but the way we read, hasn’t changed since elementary school.
In this article, I want to share some techniques you can practice to increase your reading speed and absorb information at a much faster rate. By practicing these techniques, you will be able to absorb more information and expand your knowledge base tremendously.Find out your base rate firstBut before you start, it is important to find out where you are right now. We need to measure the baseline in order to see how much we improved later.
Take a book of your choice and read for 1 minute. Read how you would normally read with full comprehension. After that, count the lines. Multiply the lines by 10 (most books have 10 words per line)
example: 20 lines * 10 = 200 wpm (words per minute)(average reading speed for people is 150 – 250wpm)
Tip #1 – Use your Left Hand to fix your eyes
Our eyes tend to jump back and forward while reading. Using your hand can help you to avoid that. Remember when you started reading as a kid. At school, we learned to use our hands/pen to fix our eyes at a word. Applying the same technique here, we can train our eyes to follow our hands and not jump back and forth. Using the left hand will activate the right part of your brain which is the “creative” part that helps you to visualize (#5).
Tip #2 – Stop reading out loud in your head
This is called sub vocalisation. Your reading speed is limited by the speed you speak. If you turn off your inner voice when reading, you have no limits. Using your hand can also help to suppress your inner voice. If you move your hand faster (#1), then your inner voice will not be able to follow. Shewing a bubble gum also helps 😉
Tip #3 – Make use of your Peripheral Vision
The majority of people read the first and the last word of a line. this is not an effective use of your peripheral vision. Start with the 3rd and end with the 3rd word of a line. If you get better this, move to the 4th and so on.
Tip #4 – Read in Segments
Don’t read every single word, instead try to read in segments. I tend to use the width of my hand to “jump” from one part to the other. 95% of all words are side words anyway, that have no meaning.
Tip #5 – Use Visualization
Imagine the words you read and create a picture in your head. Try to imagine reading as the same as watching a movie. Movies are a total information overload but most of the time we can still remember almost everything, even if it was a 3h movie.
Speed-reading can be extremely exhausting at the beginning. So don’t worry if you cannot always remember things. I would suggest to start with an easy fictional book, instead of an encyclopedia. Practice every day for min 20min. (I combine this exercise with my morning routine) Practice until your eyes get used to the speed. If you get comfortable with the speed, your brain will spend less power on focusing on speed and moving your eyes, instead it will start to focus on the content and start visualizing.
With these techniques in mind, practice 5 min and then stop the timer again to find out how much faster you are now.
TIP: I found this website where you can also check your speed and see how you do compared to the fastest reader: