On a daily basis, most of us do a good deal of reading. While most of that reading might be appropriate for speed reading techniques, some of it may not be.
It’s important as you learn how to speed read that you also learn how to determine which materials should be read through in a speedy manner and which materials should be read at a normal rate. Consider the following examples of reading you do on a daily basis:
- The newspaper
- A website
- A report at work
- A textbook
- A novel
- A product’s company history found on the back of the box
- A note from your child’s school
Some of these items might be appropriate for speed reading techniques, while some may not. How you determine which items you should speed read and which you should not is largely up to you, but there are some criteria you can use to determine which materials are speed reading materials and which are not.
Before you read a document, an article, or something else, consider what it’s about. If you’re fairly familiar with the subject matter and you have a good idea of what the document says, you can probably apply your speed reading techniques to it. If the subject matter is unfamiliar to you, or you have no idea what the document is about, you might want to slow down.
This is when your pre-read comes in handy. You can use your speed reading technique of pre-reading a document by looking for key concepts, specific words, and other things that identify the important article contents, to determine if the document is appropriate for speed reading.
Here’s an example of what we mean:
- Scan the document for important words, concepts, and anything that is highlighted or bolded.
- During this quick pre-read do you see anything that piques your interest or makes you believe you need to read it carefully?
- Are the concepts and ideas you discover new to you or is the subject matter something you already know a great deal about?
- If you already know a great deal about the subject matter, or you’re already familiar with the contents of the document, you likely can apply speed reading techniques.
- If the subject matter is unfamiliar to you, or you don’t quite understand the concepts being expressed, you might want to slow down and focus more specifically on what you’re reading. Or, you can become adept at speed reading by applying specific techniques and get through the document quickly and easily.
- While speed reading can save a great deal of time and can increase your productivity, it’s important to understand that there are some documents that you should not use speed reading techniques on.
Although we have given you tools to discover whether or not you should use speed reading techniques, the reality is the majority of documents you read on a daily basis are appropriate for speed reading.
Most of what we read is already familiar to us, or is fairly easy to digest, or isn’t important enough for us to slow down and really savor every word. Other than reading novels, most of the reading we do is about getting key concepts and little more. It’s that kind of reading that is ideal for speed reading techniques. When you are reading something like a novel, however, you might likely want to slow down so you can savor each word.