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You’re Slow, Reader.

You’ve been reading an online article for what seems like forever and glance to the scroll bar on right to see your progress. You’re barely halfway through. A pivotal decision awaits you: do you push forward or do you switch to another article that will also take you an eternity to get through? The culprit of your dilemma? It’s your reading speed. It sucks. Mine did. I fixed it with a super simple technique and I’ll share it with you as you S…L…O…W…L…Y read the next few paragraphs.

I’ll admit it, I’m a slow reader. I like to take my time reading through the sentences, almost like taking a breezy stroll on the beach. I even reread sentences – a few times for good measure. Just as I do with my food, I like to methodically chew my words; get a taste for how it fits in the context of the overall story. I may even stop and do a Google search for the definition of a word that piques my interest – like the word “pique” for example. Long story shorty, I tend to make short stories long. However, I always admired people that can read fast. Not just fast, because I’m pretty fluent, as I’m sure you are too, but reading fast WITH comprehension. That’s the tricky part. So, one day I was fortuitously introduced to a technique that helped crack this code. It sounded simple enough, but it did take some getting used to – felt unnatural at first, kind of like patting your head and rubbing your belly simultaneously. Like Tony
Ferguson refusing to tap out, I persevered through the awkwardness and came out victorious with marked improvement in my reading speed. I’m certainly not that legal disclaimer guy at the end of car leasing commercials, but I’m very happy with where I’m at. So, let’s dive in.

As you read your sentences, you need to simultaneously count to three – 1…2…3… – over and over again. So, you’re reading AND counting in parallel. Here’s the reason why this works. As you read, you internally vocalize the words you are reading. You are speaking each word to an audience of one – yourself. This natural process is called subvocalization. We learned to do this when we first began reading, and we continue to do so into adulthood. However, this practice impedes our ability to
read at a quicker pace. Common words like “the”, “a”, “is” are distributed all over the place in the text and do not require us to dedicate precious reading effort to understand the core message of what we’re reading. Counting to three while reading inhibits subvocalization and allows us to focus on the key – usually longer and less frequently seen – words that drive meaning and extract core ideas of the article or story. The goal
is to silence, to a degree, your silent voice. This will reduce your reading effort and build up your reading stamina as well. So, like a true literary stud, you’ll be faster, have greater endurance, and bring great pleasure to those around you with your vast knowledge and comprehension.

It won’t be easy at first. It wasn’t for me. But stick with it for 21 days or 30 days or 40 days, or for however many they say it takes to form a habit. Once you get comfortable using this technique, you’ll find that you no longer have to use it – you’re just reading, albeit much quicker. For myself, I found that I quickened my pace by about 25%. It’s not Mach 5, but it suits my personality because I still love the contemplation of an
interesting sentence or word. So, find what works for you and use this simple tactic to speed through your company’s annual shareholder letter or that link your friend sent you as a “gotta read”.

By: Alex Marchuk

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