Learning how to improve your outlook is key to increasing your reading speed. That doesn’t mean that you need to have a cheerful and optimistic attitude towards your speed-reading goals (though of course that helps!) but rather that you need to work on what you see when you look out of your eyes at a page of printed material.
When you read, your eyes constantly jump from word to word. Each jump ends with your eyes fixed at one spot (a “fixation”) while you focus on what you’re seeing. If you’re reading individual words, this fixation/focus process is happening for every single word. This leads to greater fatigue and eyestrain, and greatly reduces your reading speed.
Learning to fixate on “chunks” of words instead of individual words will eliminate a significant percentage of the number of fixation/focus events you experience when reading. In most cases, many of the words in a specific block of text aren’t important. That is, you don’t bother to mentally define the words and or the, or simple concepts and terms, so why waste time focusing on them? Learn to target the important words in each block of text, and let your brain – which does see every word, even though you might not consciously realize it – fill in the basic meanings for you. Here’s a visual image for you: imagine you’re crossing a broad shallow stream by stepping on large flat stones that stick up above the water. In order to get to the other side of the stream, you only need to use the large stones, though the stream bed is full of smaller stones, which you could also walk on, of course, but which aren’t necessary for your passage.
Continuing this analogy, think of vocabulary words as those large useful stones. The more words you know, the more stones are available to use in crossing any stream of words, no matter how wide. Not only that, but as your vocabulary increases with the addition of words that encapsulate multiple meanings and ideas, the number of “stones” you need will decrease, which means you’ll have larger groups of words and fewer fixation/focus events as you read. Improving and expanding your vocabulary will help you build bridges to new levels of comprehension and faster reading speeds.
Cross-posted at The Vocabulary Builder’s Blog.