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Do You Speed Read?

March 3, 2011

Every so often I buy a book about speed reading and read it – fast.  Then for a while afterwards I am more aware of how quicklyI read and how much I take in, and maybe I get a bit better at it.

I think I have four reading speeds:

1. Ridiculously slow – for proofreading.

2. Comfortably slow – for the novel I am enjoying.  I am in no hurry to finish because the rest of the train journey will be so dull.

3. Quite quick – for an article I find interesting.  I want the content out of it without spending more time than it is worth.

4. Super quick (by my own standards that is; I have no idea of my words per minute) – for assessing the value of an article.  I am skating over the surface while making my mind up if it is interesting enough to read properly.

The most recent book I have read on the subject is ‘The Speed Reading Book’ by Tony Buzan.  He uses the words ‘skimming’ and ‘scanning’ which more or less correspond to my 3 and 4 above.  On the other hand Buzan argues that it is a fallacy to imagine that you understand more when you read slowly.

Well – he may be right.  But I do know this:

Speed reading depends on good writing

You are lucky if everythng you read has been professionally edited, like magazines, newspapers and published books.  Many of us spend our days getting information from blogs, business papers, emails and other documents written by colleagues.  The standard of these will vary enormously and will probably include 64 word sentences, punctuation errors, misplaced capital letters, pages with no paragraph breaks and other mechanisms to trip us up.

If you are a runner, you will know how painful it is to trip at speed.

In my next blog, I intend to look more closely at writing techniques that facilitate speed reading.  In the meantime – how many reading speeds do you have?

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