3 Common Speed Reading Mistakes
Once you start learning to read faster there are number of mistakes that you need to avoid.
Learning to read faster can be a major time saver, and it can benefit your academic or professional career tremendously.
However, there are some common speed reading mistakes that you need to keep in mind as you start learning.
This article discusses three of the most common mistakes.
Mistake #1: Reading Everything at the Same Speed
Most people that learn speed-reading skills make the common mistake of reading everything at the same speed. This mistake is hard to avoid because most speed readers use their hand to guide their eyes. Because they’re using their hand, they end up going line-by-line at about the same speed, almost as if they’re following a rhythm.
It makes absolutely no sense to read everything the same speed because not everything is equally important. There are some sentences and paragraphs that are more important than others, so there’s no reason to read it all at the same speed. To be a more efficient speed reader you need to adjust your reading speed based on the situation.
There are two ways to adjust your reading speed for maximum efficiency:
- Adjusting your speed based on the TYPE OF MATERIAL: You should speed up on easier material (i.e. magazines) and slow down on technical material (i.e. textbooks). This seems obvious, but many people read everything at the same speed. Doing so can lead to comprehension issues. Additionally, if you’re very familiar with the material, you should push yourself to read faster. If you aren’t, go more slowly.
- Adjust your speed based on YOUR PURPOSE: If your purpose is just to get the basic concepts of the text, then there’s no need to read very slowly. You should be pushing yourself to fly through material like this. But if you need to get a lot of detail, then you should obviously slow down.
One of the harder things to learn in speed reading is when to speed up and when to slow down. A trained speed reader knows how to strike this balance.
Mistake #2: Going Back to Re-Read When You Don’t Have To
All of us have gone back to re-read material at one point or another. But there are times when you don’t have to.
You should never go back after reading just one sentence. Why? Although it’s possible that you didn’t understand the sentence, isn’t also possible that the next sentence explains the previous one? Sometimes you won’t understand a sentence until you read the rest of the paragraph.
Have you ever watched a movie that started off with a scene that was a little confusing? Did you rewind the scene and watch it again just because you didn’t understand it? Or did you just continue watching and figure out what was going on later? Most of the time, you aren’t supposed to know what is happening at the beginning, and the whole point is to figure things out later in the movie. The same thing happens when you read. Sometimes a sentence doesn’t make sense until you finish the paragraph.
When is it a good time to go back and re-read? If you’ve read a whole paragraph and didn’t understand anything, then you should definitely go back. Just don’t do it after one sentence.
Mistake #3: Poor Concentration
To read faster you need to be able to focus. Poor concentration can destroy your comprehension regardless of your reading speed. The better concentration you have, the faster you’ll read. And if you can concentrate well, you’ll also be able to comprehend the material at faster speeds.
Here are two simple tips to improve your focus while reading:
- Read with your hand: This helps you focus by guiding your eyes across the line. If you read with your hand, or a pen, as a pacer, you’ll notice that you won’t go back as much to re-read information. Using your hand to guide your eyes is the simplest way to improve your focus while reading.
- Eliminate distractions: Believe it or not, there are distractions you can control. If you’re trying to focus on your reading, then it’s probably a good idea to turn off your phone. Do you have the urge to check your email or facebook while you read? Then turn off your computer. If you’re around people that might distract, read in another location. Try to anticipate things that will distract you and then neutralize them.
To summarize these tips, make sure you are changing your speed based on the type of material you are reading and your purpose. Also make sure that you don’t go back to re-read when you don’t have to. And try to improve your concentration by using your hand to read and eliminating distractions. If you follow these three simple tips, you’ll easily be able to read much faster.
Paul is the founder of Iris Reading, the largest provider of speed-reading and memory courses. His workshops have been taught to thousands of students and professionals worldwide at institutions that include: NASA, Google, HSBC and many Fortune 500 companies.