Your ability to stay ahead in your industry is critical to your success – but how can you stay ahead when you’re swamped with material that you know you should be reading? Every day, more bombards you. Stacks of reports, journals, and trade publications crowd your office, e-mails flood your inbox, all serving as a nagging reminder that you are one step behind.
Staying ahead will only get harder – for everyone but you, that is. Because in the next 10 minutes, you will double your reading speed while maintaining comprehension. You will be able to breeze through everything from magazine articles to business newsletters to that novel you haven’t yet gotten to. You’ll finally be ahead of the stack.
All you need to get started is a timepiece (a kitchen timer that counts down to a beep works best) and a willingness to explore a new way to use your brain.
Pick an article from a magazine you have on hand and read for 20 seconds.
At the end of 20 seconds, count the number of lines you read, and write down that number. This will give you an idea of your present reading speed.
Read Faster in 3 Steps
There are three things that determine how fast you read: your physical posture, your mental posture, and your reading technique.
Your magnificently powerful human brain instantly recognizes words at unimaginable speeds. Yet, in school, you were programmed like a sports car that only shifts into first gear to “Go slowly, be careful, back up, sound it out, and comprehend every single word.” This snail-in-the-mud programming undermines your potential and wastes precious time.
Get ready to shift into fifth gear and enjoy a lifetime of fast, effortless reading.
Step 1: Get Physical
Studies show that there’s a specific physical posture that helps you read faster and comprehend more: You place your feet comfortably on the floor, sit up straight, and fully relax your shoulders.
Do that now. Then relax your face and gently smile. Can you feel a difference?
Adjust your computer screen to a 45- to 60-degree upward angle, and slightly tilt your head downward.
You’re in the ideal posture for reading this issue of ETR (or anything else) onscreen. If you were reading a book or some other printed material, you’d do the same thing – holding or propping it up at a 45- to 60-degree angle.
Step 2: Expectancy and the Tangerine
Expect success. Tell yourself what you want to get from your reading. Always have a purpose.
Put yourself in the ideal state of mind by using “The Tangerine Technique.” It may seem a bit odd, but it gets your brain working in such a way that you can read swiftly through anything. Play along to see how it works for you.
Reach your hand out in front of you and pick up an imaginary tangerine. Do it right now, while you are reading this. Imagine the tangerine’s color, skin texture, and maybe even the sweet, tangy smell. Then, lob it from hand to hand to sense its weight.
Position the imaginary tangerine on the upper-rear portion of your head. Touch that area gently with your hand and imagine the tangerine floating a couple of inches above it. Bring your hand down and relax your shoulders completely. Pretend that this magical tangerine always stays there, no matter how your head moves.
Close your eyes and let the tangerine float a few inches above and behind your head. Notice how much more relaxed and alert you feel. Imagine your field of vision opening up.
Maintaining this feeling, gently open your eyes. Go back to the magazine article you read from to gauge your initial reading speed, and read for another 20 seconds.
Again, write down the number of lines you read.
How was that? Is it now easier to read? Did the words flow more effortlessly?
In most classes that I teach, students notice a 50 percent increase in reading speed simply by taking these first two steps.
Step 3: Upper-Half Reading
Glide your vision across the upper-half of the words you read. In other words, don’t focus on the full word. Just the upper portion. Play with it right now on this paragraph. Do you notice the difference? Most people find it is easier to get the meaning of a sentence by gliding across the top portion of the words. It’s a novel idea – based on scientific research – that actually works!
Another tip: When you finish one line, quickly zip your eyes back to the beginning of the next line.
You should now find it easier to comprehend whole words and phrases at much higher speeds, while eliminating bad habits such as re-reading and focusing on individual words to sound them out.
Now, get ready to read for another 20 seconds…
Set your posture, relax, gently smile, tilt your head, and hold your magazine at a 45- to 60-degree angle.
Close your eyes and expect success. Put your tangerine in place, touching the back of your head to get the feeling while imagining your visual field opening up.
Now gently open your eyes and read for 20 seconds, gliding your eyes across the top of the words and zipping to the next line.
Count the lines again. What difference did you notice? How many more lines did you get through? Isn’t it amazing that you improved that much in less than 10 minutes!
Try it again for another 20 seconds. Use everything you just learned. This time, push yourself a little. Challenge yourself to read faster still.
You Are Brighter Than You Think
You are brighter than you think. You have great mental resources that you accessed today with these three steps to double your reading speed.
Commit to using these techniques with everything you read. You may find it helpful to put a note in your calendar every day for the next couple of weeks to remind yourself to do it. Review this article at least two more times. Maybe print out a copy to keep on your desk or in your briefcase.
Enjoy the benefits of increased speed and comprehension. You’ll see the ease of reading continuing to grow as you strengthen your new skills as an efficient, effective reader.