Saying affirmations like ‘I can read fast’ is not going to help you read faster. Positive affirmations have their limits. They may help you boost your ability to put in the effort to read faster, but they are not a magic pill. So, how can you read faster and comprehend more? This article has a few simple tips that can make a huge difference.
Stop Verbalizing What You Read
When I first met my husband, his reading habit drove me nuts. He read every word out loud. It was quite annoying, but what I didn’t know is that I was doing it as well, I just wasn’t vocalizing the words.
Your mind can absorb information much quicker if you are not sounding out each word. According to the author of Speed Reading For Dummies, we were taught as kids to sound out each word while we read, but we were never taught to read silently, so we carried this habit with us and adulthood.
Makes sense right?
Before you protest and say, “I don’t talk while I read,” let me tell you that I didn’t think I did either. However, I quickly found out that I did sound out the words inside my head while I read. Doing this messed with my reading comprehension.
Because my eyes were able to go over the words quickly and read them at a quick pace, my mind, which was sounding out the words, was not able to keep up. This caused confusion with my comprehension, and it forced me to go back and reread sentences in order to comprehend what was written.
Now, I try to quiet the voice in my head that wants to sound out words; instead, I just try to read the words as they are, trusting that I have the ability to comprehend them without sounding them out. (I’ve had 40+ years of experience, so I think I should be able to comprehend them a bit without sounding them out!)
As a side note: I still find that I hear the voice inside my head. I’m not sure that voice could ever go away. Even as I’m typing this I can hear my inner voice ‘saying’ the words. However, I don’t sound out the words anymore. I think that’s the key to read faster. I try to read and ‘speak’ at the same time so that both my eyes and my inner voice are picking up the words at the same time. This simple act makes a big difference, and the more I practice it the more it allows me to read faster.
Pay Attention If You Want To Read Faster
The next time you and someone are watching TV, and you are deep into the show, look over at the other person and notice their face. You will see that they are focused on the square picture and they do not see outside of the lines. Instead, they are actively participating with the images and words they are seeing and hearing on the TV.
In other words, they are paying attention.
If you want to read faster, then it is a matter of making the words on the page a priority at the moment, just like you would a TV show.
I found that the realization that paying more attention will increase my reading speed was enough to cause me to pay more attention while reading. It’s funny how that works, and I’m willing to bet that the simple thought of ‘pay attention’ will increase your reading speed as well.
I also found the following suggestion to help greatly: Pretend that there is nothing going on outside of the pages of the book – as if the world stops inside the outline of those pages.
Also, if you are like me, and you are easily distracted, then you need to be in a place where distractions are limited if you want to focus on the book. This includes having a well-lit area and sitting in a comfortable chair (but not too comfortable or you will fall asleep). Poor lighting and body discomfort can be a distraction, even slightly, and cause your reading speed to decrease.
Read in Clumps – Not Word By Word
This will blow your mind when you try it!
Most of us read word by word or a few words by a few words, but not many of us read in clumps of words that hold a certain meaning. You will find though, that if your vocabulary is good, and you enjoy reading, then this will come much easier than you expect.
Inside the book, Speed Reading For Dummies, the author clumps off words so that you can see how clumps of words can easily be read and comprehended with just one glance.
To me, this is kind of like focusing your eyes in the middle of the sentence, instead of starting at the beginning of the sentence, in order to read. Using my peripheral vision helps me to read the sentence and comprehend it.
Take, for example, the sentence: I know what to do, but I can’t make myself do it.
I imagine that some people read the above sentence word by word while others can look at this sentence and gulp it down in one glance.
Personally, I used to read this word by word, but now that I am trying to read in clumps I would read, “I know what to do,” in one glance and, “but I can’t make myself do it,” in another glance.
In the end, when you are doing these three things:
- Not verbalizing the words out loud or in your head
- Paying attention to the book you are reading (like you would a TV show)
- Reading in clumps instead of word by word
You will be able to read faster and comprehend more.