Speed Reading - Force Yourself to Read Faster

One of the simplest and yet most effective techniques for increasing your reading speed is simply to force yourself to read faster. This might sound obvious, and you can get an improvement from your very first attempt, but in order to get lasting results it’s something you have to practice.

First up, pick a book to practice on, it should be something that’s easy to read and has continuous evenly spaced text. For this reason it’s not a good idea to practice on a technical book or anything that’s written in a text-book style, a novel is a good choice. You will also need a stopwatch or timer.

To know if your reading speed is increasing you first need to know what your current reading speed is. Now a lot speed reading courses advise reading for a set period of time, such as one minute, and then counting how many words you’ve managed to read. However I’ve found in practice this means you end up spending a lot of time just counting words, what a waste! So instead I suggest reading for a set number of pages, and measuring how long it took. This is why it’s key that the book you have chosen to practice on has continuous and evenly spaced text.

Pick a random point in your book, have a quick check that there isn’t an end of a chapter in the next few pages, and then start your stopwatch. Now read 5 pages at your regular reading rate, and whilst doing this move your finger along underneath the words as you are reading them. When you’re done make a note of how long it took. This is your current reading rate.

Now pick another random page in your book. This time when you read through the next five pages you’re going to force yourself to read about twice as fast as you did before. You can do this by using your finger as a guide, simply move your finger along at twice the speed you did before and forcing yourself to read at the rate your finger is moving. Don’t worry about comprehension at this point, most people feel that they aren’t understanding what they are reading or that it simply isn’t going in, but for now this really isn’t important.

Repeat this process another 3 or 4 times, and each time move your finger slightly faster than you did the last time. Remember it doesn’t matter if you aren’t remembering or understanding any of what you read, just force yourself to read the words as fast as your finger is moving. You don’t need to worry about recording the time taken during any of these practices.

Now, lets see what effect this forcing yourself to read faster has had on your natural reading speed. Reset your stopwatch and pick a new page in your book again, but this time don’t use your finger as a guide, simply read 5 pages at whatever pace feels natural to you.

You will find you can’t help but read faster than you did in the first place, and if you need some proof check the time on your stopwatch. You will find it is significantly quicker than the time for your original reading speed.

Now how easy was that! For more techniques to improve your reading speed further check out the next Speed Reading article: Using Your Peripheral Vision


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