Reading is one of the most important skills that any adult should have. While literacy in the world is at an all-time high, some people would like to be able to read faster. For students, being able to read quickly means the difference between having the time to read the whole chapter or just the first few pages. For a busy businessperson faster reading can translate into more time at home with his family. For anybody it can mean being able to get through books you read for pleasure much quicker and therefore making more time to enjoy even more books. Faster reading is indeed a very sought after skill in our society today.
The short answer to the question that resides in the title of this article is, “Practice.” However, that doesn’t make for a very interesting article so I’ll expound a little bit. When it comes down to it, the best way to increase your reading speed is to practice reading faster. Over, and over, and over. If you want to get better at golf then you go to the driving range and hit ball after ball after ball. If you want to get better at dancing then you practice dance moves until they become second nature. Reading is the same way. The more you practice it the better and quicker you will become.
There are a couple more specific ways you can practice this ability. One of the simplest and low-tech is to use your finger to force yourself to read faster. Take your index finger and move it along or below the words as you read them. However, move your hand slightly faster than you are comfortable reading. Your eyes will try to keep up with your finger, which will result in you having to read faster. You can even try doing this in a way similar to interval training in running. Read one page at your normal pace and then read the next page at a slightly faster than normal pace. Repeat this technique and challenge yourself by using different speeds with your finger.
Another way to learn to read faster is to learn to read in phrases and not individual words. The fastest readers in the world do not read every single word they come across. They can look at a grouping of words and know the meaning without reading each individual one. See if you can skip the occasional word as you read at your normal pace. This will automatically increase your reading speed. Try to skip larger sections of words while also moving your eyes faster. Eventually, you will be able to look at as many as several lines to a whole paragraph and be able to get the meaning out of it instantaneously. However, beware using this technique on overly technical or difficult writing. You don’t want to accidentally skip a word that is vital to the meaning of what you’re reading. This technique is best used on fiction that is not overly difficult to understand.
Lastly, just force yourself to read faster as much as possible. See how quickly you can read a book. Go through it as fast as you can and see how much you got out of it. Take some notes about what you understood and then go back and read it at a more leisurely pace. The more you practice the better you will be.
One last word of warning is that your reading speed needs to match the level of difficulty of what you’re reading. Don’t try to use speed reading techniques on writing that is highly technical or if you’re unfamiliar with the concepts being written about. Part of being a good reader is knowing at what speed you should read a corresponding piece of text.