Improving Your Comprehension By Adjusting Your Reading Speed
In an earlier article, we explained how using your hand as a pacer can improve your reading speed (see “The Simplest Way To Read Faster”). We’ll now build on this technique by introducing a simple way for you to improve your comprehension.
The concept is simple: adjust your reading speed based on where you are in the text.
Here’s a good rule of thumb to improve your comprehension. Slow down on the first sentence of a paragraph, and then speed up through the rest of the paragraph.
As you probably already know, the first sentence of a paragraph is usually the main idea or topic sentence with the details following. So if we go carefully through this sentence, we can take the idea and try to run with it by going faster through the rest of the paragraph.
The first sentence is not always the main idea, but it usually is. By slowing down on this sentence, you’re preparing your brain for the details that follow.
Keep in mind that when we say “slow down” on the first sentence, we don’t mean that you should go very slowly but carefully. And when we say “speed up” after the first sentence, it doesn’t mean that you should go so fast that you can’t understand what you’re reading. Think of it like driving a car. At some points, you speed up, and at others, you slow down depending on the situation.
Sometimes, you might come across an author that puts main ideas at the end of paragraphs. All you have to do is modify the strategy so that you slow down near the end of paragraphs.
The central idea here is that you should not read everything at the same speed. Some parts of a paragraph are more important than others just like some parts of a chapter are more important than others. We are simply acknowledging this and adjusting our speed to maximize our comprehension.
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.