Anne Jones is the six times world champion in speed reading, and I had the great fortune to meet her in Corbridge and learn from her great experience.
The first thing you have to do is take a passage of writing, be it in a book or a long article. Find the average word count per line (you can do this by counting the words on three lines and dividing that sum by three). Using a timer, see how many lines you can read at your normal reading pace, in one minute. Count up how many lines you read and use the words per line average to estimate how many words you read (multiply words per line by number of lines).
This is your starting point. Anne Jones not only knows how to read exceptionally quickly, she read the final Harry Potter book in 47 minutes and 1 second which means she was reading at a rate of 4251 words per minute – amazing, but Anne also knows some of the science behind this. You can only read when your eyes aren’t moving. Knowing this you can actively try and lengthen the breaks in motion and so try the exercise again and see if you can read more words in one minute than before.
At the end there was a short question section where I, along with various other members of the audience, was able to ask some questions. I wanted to know if there was a way that you could check yourself. If you were reading important information then you would have to make sure you didn’t miss anything, Anne suggested this method: firstly summarise the book,not article (the first and last sentences of paragraphs for short articles are useful). Anne can quickly summarise a 300 page book in ten minutes. Next think of some questions, questions that by the end you should be able to answer and would allow you check that you have read everything. What do you want to know? Also think about what you know already about the topic, connect the old and the new and this should help the new information to stick better in your mind. The third thing you could ask is what do you think the author is going to say? Then you can check if you got your predictions write, the more you read, the more likely you can predict. Then you need to use read, and summarise the text.
Anne Jones, has been on many television shows such as Sky News and the One Show as well as on radio as Chris Evans mystery guest. Anne with all this media background was able to explain the techniques exceptionally well, she described how if you look at a word on the page you can also see a couple of words to the right and the left. With this information, you can start reading slightly inwards of the page and make fewer stops with your eyes.
These techniques can be used by anyone, but Anne says that people who struggle with reading are the most rewarding to help but her skills are also used by lawyers and teachers and others who need to read a lot of things in a short space of time.
Even in a short space of time, you can double the number of words you can read in one minute, also re-reading sections allows to you speed up reading time. Another interesting question was how you should use speed reading, Anne says that books tend to suggest their own speed but that a lot of people just use it for tedious reading and this leaves them time to read for enjoyment.
Test yourself again, see how much improvement you’ve made. Let me know your success, how much did you improve by? Can you suggest other techniques, or other uses for speed reading?
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Have a wonderful week,