These days, it seems we are all inundated with reading material: e-mails, memos, reports, newspapers and books all vie for our attention. One skill that is useful and easy to acquire is speed reading.
When introduced to the concept, most people start by saying: “I am a very slow reader and I could never do that!” In fact everyone practices speed reading at one time or another. The most obvious examples of that are searching for a phone number in the phone book or looking for a particular e-mail in a cluttered inbox. Because we are focusing on the information we are looking for, our mind automatically discards what does not fit our requirement at this time, and we find it much quicker than if we were to read every single line until we got to it. This technique is aptly called “scanning”.
Because 4 to 11% of the words cover 85% of the content, it is not necessary for us to read every single word to understand what we read. However, most people believe that they need to, and it can be very difficult for them to accept the contrary. It is often necessary to work on their beliefs to ensure that they will continue practicing after learning the skill.
There are other times when you really want to read every single word, such as when signing a contract. Speedreading the contract would simply not hold in court!
And of course, it does not mean you cannot enjoy every word of your favorite author!
There are many techniques for speed reading. Since people have different learning modalities, the same approach may be successful for one person but not for the other. You can download courses over the internet, buy books, or attend workshops.
In this era of information overload, speed reading is a very useful skill which can be easily acquired.