~ 3.5 Minute Read.
One of the more fascinating skills that I started to acquire is “Speedreading”.
As the name suggests, this is about reading fast, but also about getting the information to stick better! I originally got in touch with this still surprisingly exotic topic because a friend of mine—Erik Traise—recommended the “Speedreading” book by Tony Buzan 1.
Inspired by the book we took a seminar at the University of Konstanz where Erika Magyarosi drilled us in four days to increase our reading speeds two to fourfold.
If you’re in doubt, a rough outline on why this works: like most of all of us, in school you may have been tought to read by vocalizing the letters and reading them out loud. Later you were told to keep silent now, turning the “vocalization” into “subvocalization”, i.e. you still read out loud to yourself, but in an inner voice.
Since you learned how to read you likely don’t actually require this voice anymore, it is also called “auditory reassuring”, your brain already knows what you just read, you just have a weird urge to make sure what you understood was correct. Speedreading teaches you a couple of techniques in addition to this: expanding your peripheral vision during reading, reading rythm, avoiding jumping back and rereading portions of the text, or even to start using a reading aid again.
The most asked question about speed reading: how can you still get information out of the text at high speeds? One of the ideas here is that reading a text fast twice is way more effective than reading it slowly once. With the first time you acquire a context that then allows you to connect the dots on the second round. But even when only reading once, you will pick up the most important points and for more simple (nonfiction) literature, that is usually sufficient.
You would obviously not speedread anything you are trying to enjoy on a literary level (like this blog for example 2 ), but to get information out of text, this is amazing.
My reading speed since dropped dramatically 3 as I don’t read enough to “stay in shape”, but every now and then I take a book and read it. Back when I read at ~200 WpM 4 I found it too cumbersome to actually pick up a book; that seminar changed that. So if you’re still not convinced that this would be worth learning more about, but have a similar problem, see it this way:
I’d rather just take away 50% of a book than 0% because I never read it.
And finally, I made a virtual reality speedreading game together with my team at Vhite Rabbit and if you’re interested in supporting us, you may have a chance to accidentally learn speedreading by playing that game—it has a slightly steep learning curve, though. Get it via this coupon for 80% off.
- “Speedreading” by Tony Buzan (English | German)
- I’m joking of course. I know there is still a long way of writing skill acquisition ahead of me. Which is why I time invest into this blog.
- Rough measurement for this blog post: ~360 WpM.
- Words per minute.
Written in 45 minutes, edited in 5 minutes.