Most of us learned to read word-by-word or sentence-by-sentence. We were taught to slow down and focus on our words, focus on the meaning the author was trying to convey, and focus on what each sentence meant.
To effectively speed read, however, it’s important that you unlearn the technique of reading word-by-word. Instead, it’s best if you learn to read blocks of words at a time. This is one of the most important techniques that you use when speed reading. Once you have learned the basic techniques of not subvocalizing, of learning how to focus on what’s important to read and what you can effectively ignore, and using your finger to guide you through the text, the next step is to actually focus on the specific concept of reading text quickly.
When you read blocks of text and utilize the techniques that we have learned, you will find that you get the general gist of each block of text easily and quickly. Depending on what you’re reading, a block of text might be defined as one paragraph, or one bullet point, or one full page of text. You might feel more comfortable when you first begin speed reading by identifying a block of text as one paragraph. But as you advance and your reading speed increases, you might find that you can identify an entire page as one block of text.
If you’re reading for pleasure, as we have already noted, you may not want to use speed reading techniques. In fact, if you read a novel, short story, or poem too quickly, you might miss the subtle nuance of the story, or the writing, or the simple poetic use of language that the author employs. In fact, we would argue that if you use speed reading techniques in every form of reading that you do, you might miss some important elements of the writing.
Choose your speed reading material carefully.
Use these techniques to read blocks of text:
- Pick some reading material that is in a larger font. When you’re first learning to read by blocks of text, this larger print can be easier to run your eyes over. It’s also best if you choose reading material that you have already read before. While this might not be as challenging as reading a new block of text, it can help you to increase your speed quickly.
- Read the block of text as quickly as you can, using your finger under the line of text to guide your eyes. Focus on just that one block of text and nothing else until that block of text is complete. Then move on to the next block of text.
- When you read this way, you’ll find that you do ignore punctuation and nonessential words. You might miss the word “the”, or “of”, or “at”, but it’s not that important when you’re reading simply for comprehension and speed.