How to read faster

Speed reading is the main quality common to all successful intellectual personalities. These people who know how to read quickly do not even realize their advantage because this practice becomes such a reflex, such a habit, that they do not even think about the way they read that makes them so effective.

Why learn to read quickly?

There are already the advantages of reading: learning, cultivating oneself, developing one’s open-mindedness, enriching one’s spelling/grammar/vocabulary, improving one’s way of thinking, strengthening one’s memory.

Then there are the advantages of speed reading: a story, for it to be interesting … you have to get into it. The first pages are often the most terrible, and you quickly lose interest. The advantage of fast reading is that you will not get bored. You will be hooked on this high-speed train, and you will not be able to get off because you will love it so much.

You will be much more quickly plunged into the heart of the story, where everything becomes interesting: where the most beautiful landscapes, the most beautiful scenes, the most beautiful reflections are found. You will not feel like you are wasting time, and on the contrary, you will enjoy being just as efficient, you will want to read more, learn more.

If you are not sure what you should read, you do not know where to start: the good news in our world is that centuries and centuries of writers and thinkers have devoted their lives to putting the best they can offer on paper. So here’s a compilation of the world’s most interesting books to get you started on speed reading.

Now let us get started on learning how to read quickly and efficiently!

Read less – you will read better

1. Read only what you like

Your teacher told you to read a book from cover to cover, from the first page to the last line. Do not listen to him.

Your friend told you to read this article from Le Monde, Le Figaro or Libération in its entirety to get your opinion. Do not listen to him.

Your parents told you that to understand a document, you have to read every letter, every word. Don’t listen to them.
Just read what you like! You are already doing that anyway. Maybe you do not realize it, but a very telling example of the internet or social network user is to be aware of how you process a web page.

When you check your Facebook feed, you will realize that you do not read all the posts that are presented to you. You already instinctively ignore the ads, the menus on the sides. You ignore texts that seem too long. At best, you read the first few words, and if you feel it will not be interesting, you skip it. That is fine.

When you look at the results of a Google page, you immediately look for the first and second link. The more accustomed will also avoid the advertising links that are at the top of the page. And when you are interested in the link, you won’t even read the whole thing! You will catch your eye on one or two words that stand out, often the keywords you are looking for, the ones Google has put in bold. If you are still not sure that it will be beneficial to click, you look in the middle of the description of the site, just below the link. Only if you want more information, you will read the whole description; otherwise you will go to the next link and repeat the same process.

A very simple test: if you are hooked on this word in bold, and that you have read only very quickly the big paragraph above, it means that you are already doing the work to read what you like. If you read the whole paragraph above, it is because you wanted to understand what we meant, because you know it is important. Or you would have skipped it already.

So our first piece of advice is simply encouragement, it is there just to reassure you: don’t read everything, and keep reading what you like: that is what will make you productive in your reading.

2. Read only the outline, introduction and conclusion

This is where all the author’s message lies. It is in the outline of the book, that is, the chapter titles, the part titles, and in the introduction and conclusion that the author makes his transitions, that he articulates his thoughts.

A very simple test: if before you read this sentence, you already know what points are going to be covered afterwards, because you have already skimmed through the titles, that is fine. If you have not done so yet, you can do so now.

This technique will save you a lot of time to understand an idea, to understand an article, to understand a whole book. If you already know the points the author is going to go through, you have the structure in mind. You have the big picture.

Unless you are reading a novel for pleasure, in which case it is always more interesting to follow the story step by step, it is always much more interesting to know everything about the story, to have the general outline in your head, and only then to specify, to go into details, which you will be able to link to the structure calmly.

It is like a puzzle where you already have the framework, and then it is much easier to fill it in.

The most important thing is always our rule n° 1: read what you like. So if an introduction seems to be too messy, too long, go faster and ignore it.

It is simply a matter of being aware that it is only through the structure of the book, or any document, that you will be able to read it quickly and efficiently. Moreover, it will allow you to identify which chapters or parts are the most interesting for you, the ones that interest you, the ones that you like.

3. The 80/20 rule

In short, the 80/20 rule means that 20% of the book is 80% of what you need to know about an article/book/newspaper.

Focus on the 20%. This idea is again in line with our previous points: focus on the essentials. The whole job is to quickly identify what the essential points are, where the 20% that represent 80% of the interest of the book are.

That is why we advised you to read the titles of chapters or parts first, because they concentrate most of what you need to remember.

For more information, you can read the point #10 of our article on productivity.

Put yourself under pressure

4. Use a timer

Maybe you do not think you can do it yet, but you can read 10 times faster than you do right now.

A very simple way to get to your true potential reading speed is to set a goal and check your performance. Believe in yourself, you have this resource within you, it is just that you have never used it!

At least until now, because from now on, you will have your timer next to you when you read. You can calculate how long it usually takes you to read. It is very simple, just take a book, start the timer, read about 50 pages. At the end, do the math: how long did it take you to read a page? Calculate how many words there is in any page: how long does it take you on an average to read 10 words?

By reading 50 pages, you will have a large enough sample to determine your true reading speed. Now divide your score by 2: that is how long it will take you to read the next 50 pages! You think it is impossible? Think again, set your timer and read! You will be surprised by the quality of your results.
For more information, you can read point n° 2 of our article on productivity.

5. Your best ally: auto-scroll

The most discerning readers and fans of new technologies will know this feature: auto-scroll. Available in the latest applications, especially for smartphones, it simply scrolls the page for you, without your intervention.

Generally, it is presented as a curtain that falls on the current page and forces you to speed up your reading. Think bigger than your stomach and set a high goal for yourself. Each page will turn, or scroll, or disappear, depending on your settings, faster than you can read it. That is OK. You will soon get used to reading this way, much faster. You will spontaneously concentrate on the most important elements.

If you read in a more traditional way, on books, real books, and you think that this system is inapplicable, think again! You will be your own executioner, and we count on you to be ruthless.

All you need is a stick (a thin pen or pencil will do) and your hand sets the pace: scroll faster than you read!

Our favorite method is to replace the wand with a rectangle of paper, you can use your bookmark for example (or simply place your wand horizontally on the page). The advantage is that this cardboard covers the entire width of the page, and you only have to scroll vertically.

Your reading speed will be increased tenfold thanks to this tutor, because the auto-scroll will force you in a radical and merciless way to follow it, faster, faster and faster. At the beginning, it will be difficult, we do not hide it from you. It will become much easier after about ten minutes, and even: it will be addictive! You will not be able to do without it, as you will feel like you are wasting time, when nothing forces you to rush.

I Understand What You Are Reading

Thanks to the previous steps, you already have all the techniques to force yourself to read faster. All that remains is to make sure you understand what you are reading. You will be happy to know that all the work is already done: now it is just a matter of trusting your brain on two counts.

6. Your brain already knows how to organize and arrange

When you read quickly, diagonally, picking up words here and there, you can legitimately ask yourself the question: is it really possible to understand a sentence if you do not read the question, the verb, and the compliments in full?

The answer is scientific, proven and re-proven: YES, you will understand even faster!

There is a test that you may have already had the opportunity to take, it is the one of the letters in the wrong order. The human being is able to read any word even if its letters are out of order! Amazing, is it not? And yet true!

For example, try to read this sentence:

Bnjuoor, ej vuex povoiur lrie plsu ramepepidnt n’iormpte equl teetx !

If you were able to decipher this sentence, congratulations! The reason our brain can understand a word even if its letters are out of order is because it thinks of sentences in general terms, all words at once, all letters at once, and not letter by letter.

And here’s the good news: it is exactly the same for a whole book, for whole paragraphs, and for whole sentences!

For example, if your eye catches this series of words:

nuclear – decided – difficulties – Germany – 2% – damage – pollution – will reduce

In this series, you have no article, no adjective, no complement of time, place, etc. So, impossible to understand what you read?

Thanks to a few scattered words, taken here and there, you can already guess that Germany is concerned by the nuclear problem!

It is even easier to become aware of this when you have already read 10 chapters on the environmental issue, and you are at the European chapter!

So trust yourself, and be a reading detective: with only a few clues, you will be able to understand everything you read.

7. Read instantly, understand instantly, and win the competition on your voice

So you will have understood that it is better to read large groups, rather than letter by letter. Your eyes should focus on one group of words and immediately jump to another group of words. That is what we call reading!

If you want to go even faster, then you need to make sure that you are not reading for yourself those groups of words. OK, this sentence is hard to understand, so let us explain it better.

Imagine telling a story to a baby. You read the page word by word, out loud.
Now imagine yourself telling that same story to yourself, but this time not out loud, but by saying the words in your head, one by one.
Imagine how you read these words, with what intonations: accentuate certain words rather than others.

Try this with what you are reading at this very moment, this article on speed reading. Imagine saying this sentence to someone, emphasizing some words rather than others.

Well, this is all reading word by word, almost “out loud” in your mind. You are going to have to get rid of that voice, because it is wasting a lot of your time. Just saying the words, whether it is to someone else, to a baby, or to yourself, in your head is a waste of time.

In fact, the brain understands much, much faster than you speak! And yes, you can be in awe of your brain, because it is super efficient, and before you even have time to say it, it has already registered everything!

So you have to stop yourself from reading and pronouncing word by word of what you read. How do you do this?

Well, you will laugh: the best way to capture the meaning of what you are reading without even having to pronounce it, to tell you: read faster! So you are already on your way!

You read well, read faster and the little voice in your mind that I was telling you the stories will disappear. It will be replaced by a much more powerful and faster reading: that of instant comprehension!

So it is a race: read faster than you can say it, and you will have no problem, you will go as fast as your brain can, and that is the best we can hope you.

→ 20 rules for presenting your papers well

One thought on “How to read faster

  1. Excellent article, thank you! The advice on the little voice is truly magical. One last element all the same, the more you read the faster you read! As long as you read only what you like of course 😉

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