A few years ago, I read somewhere that when Warren Buffet was asked which superpower he most wished he had, he responded: “Speed-reading”.
Not flying, not superhuman strength or even mind-reading, just the ability to read faster.
Why do you think that is?
It’s because Buffett, like many luminaries, believes that the key to success in any field is learning all you can about it.
But there’s one problem: learning enormous amounts on a topic takes a long time. Most of us can only read about 200-300 words/minute, so reading several books on a subject is an arduous task.
When I was younger, I used to think that speed-reading was a complex skill reserved to only a lucky few gifted individuals. But a few months ago, I came across this great article by Scott H Young and I realized that speed-reading is simply a set of techniques and that it’s possible for anyone to master them.
Since then, I’ve been able to triple my reading speed (from 250 words/minute to a top speed of 750) & it’s been a thrill to feel my powers increasing.
Today, I’m here to tell you that speed-reading is totally within your reach, and that it’s a much easier skill to acquire than you think.
With 3 simple techniques I’m going to share with you and a little bit of practice, I absolutely believe that you can double your reading speed within 1-2 weeks, triple it within a few months, and acquire this Superpower that even Warren Buffet wishes he had.
Technique #1: Use a Pointer
When we were first taught to read, our teacher showed us to use our finger to direct our eyes along each line. This helped us keep our focus on the words and was instrumental in our learning.
Along the way, we stopped doing that, but we shouldn’t have: Eye tracking movements have shown that our eyes move around considerably when we read. These micro-movements force us to constantly readjust and diminish our reading speed.
By using a pointer (our index finger or a pen), we greatly improve our ability to focus on the words and reduce these micro-movements.
It also allows us to “set the pace”: by moving the pointer faster, we force our eyes to move faster as well and our reading speed increases.
Reading with a finger or pen can seem awkward at first, but you’ll get used to it very quickly and soon realise how beneficial it is.
Technique #2: Start & Stop Reading 3 Words from the Margin
By default, we always start reading the first word on the left of the page and go all the way to the last word on the right. But here’s the trick: you can start on the 3rd word from the left, and stop 3 words from the end, and your peripheral vision will pick up the first 2 and last 2 words automatically.
In a line of 10 words, this allows you to “read” only 6 words and save 40% of the effort & time.
To do so, it is imperative to use Technique #1 as without it, your eyes will automatically start on the first word and go to the end of the line.
Simply by using Techniques #1 & #2, I was able to increase my reading speed from 250 to 500 words/minute within a week and I absolutely believe you can do the same.
Technique #3: Stop Vocalizing
The first 2 techniques will help you reach great speed with ease, but eventually you will be capped off by the little voice in your head. If you vocalize (i.e., say in your head) each word you read, you can only go as fast as the speed you say it in your head (which I found to be ~500 words/minute for me).
To reach truly blazing-speed, you need to turn off that little voice, and simply scan the words with your eyes without vocalizing them. This may seem odd at first, but as you get better you’ll notice you can process the information just as well.
An Important Distinction
When I talk about speed-reading with people, the same question always comes up: do you still absorb/retain as much information while speed-reading? The answer is yes.
But the key to doing so is being able to recognize when you’re reading something important and slowing down at appropriate times.
For instance, on one page, there might be 300 words that are moderately important, and 50 that are critical. Read the 300 words at blazing-speed and slow down to “normal” speed for the 50 to make sure you fully grasp the concepts.
The Magic Ingredient: Practice
Just like any skill, the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it. That’s why I highly encourage you to start using the 3 techniques every time you read and make a habit of it.
The first month I started speed-reading, I made sure I practiced for at least 5 minutes every day with perfect technique and the improvement was drastic.
By now, I know all this intrigues you…
Imagine if 1 week from now you could read twice as fast… and 3 times as fast in a few months… How sweet would that be?
Mastering speed-reading is an extraordinary skill, and it will help you for the rest of your life.
Knowledge is power my friend... The only question is: how powerful do YOU want to be?
Best of luck, have fun & don’t hesitate if you have any questions!
Check out the second part of this speed-reading series to find out I used these techniques to finish a book in 4 hours.