The average person reads about 200 words per minute when looking at a book or a (cough) blog post. This isn’t particularly fast, especially considering the same average person could likely read a road sign reroute almost instantly, while still driving 60+ mph and listening to the radio. Why is there such a difference?
When reading the road, your eyes take in all the information as a movie. When you read a book, your brain converts the word pictures into sound bites and pronounces each word aloud. Reading is the only activity in which you use your eyes to hear, rather than see, information.
The solution? Make reading a more visual experience. The easiest way to do this is by using hand movements when reading. This not only helps making reading visual, but also helps avoid what is called “regression,” or the habit of rereading words and phrases several times.
1.) Place your fingers at the start of each line, and quickly move them towards the right margin.
2.) Play around and see if going slightly behind ahead or behind helps you read better. I like it when my finger trails slightly. Some even prefer the finger to be under the line. See what works best for you!
3.) Don’t be sloppy! Make sure that your finger completely moves across the page from margin to margin.
Using your hands alone will make you faster and more efficient. But, if you’re feeling competitive, here’s an additional exercise that can help you beat your time:
1.) Set an alarm to beep after each minute.
2.) Read for 1 minute at your normal peak comprehension rate.
3.) Now, read at double your comprehension rate for 1 minute. For example, if you read 10 sentences in the exercise above, try getting to 20. You won’t fully comprehend what you’re reading during this minute but you will be making your brain work harder to condition it.
4.) Read at triple your comprehension rate for another minute. Because go big or go home.
5.) Read at your peak comprehension rate. And tada! you will see that already you will be reading much more quickly.
This post is a summary of a chapter by Howard Stephen Berg, the world’s fastest reader, from the book The Experts’ Guide to 100 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do (Samantha Ettus).