How to Improve Comprehension Using a Simple Speed Reading Technique

Living in the information age means we get bombarded with a lot of it on any given day. Some information is less important than others and for that which is important it is natural to spend more time and slow down to better comprehend and recollect what is read. So how in the world will a speed reading technique help with better comprehension?

Well, first it is important to note that speed reading the right way is not simply about reading more words in a shorter time. Speed reading the right way fundamentally focuses on extracting the key ideas and message of what we read with more ease. #Ideas over words. Here is where the speed reading technique of pre-view makes a huge difference.

The power of pre-viewing a reading material plays on the fact that you can prep your mind for the material you are about to read. Have you ever been doing research on a car model and suddenly you observe that specific model everywhere you go? It seems like they came out of the woodworks. Pre-viewing has a similar effect. It places anchors on your mind on important detail so that as you read you key in on those critical ideas and make mental notes of them.

Pre-viewing will slightly vary depending on the material you are reading, but it largely consists of

  • Paying attention to the title (What are you about to read?)
  • Reading through the Table of Contents and glancing through the index of a book (pay attention to new words or high frequency words in the index)
  • Reading the 1st paragraph and last paragraph of the article or of each chapter (if a book)
  • Reading the the 1st and last sentence of each paragraph of a web article
  • Scanning through pictures, diagrams, headings, bullet points and italicized or bolded words
  • Reading questions at the end of each chapter for instructional books
  • For readings that require more facts asking the 5Ws & H (What, Who, When, Where, Why and How)

That simple exercise can take anywhere from 3 mins for an article to 15 mins for a book. The small time investment helps to identify what is really important in what you are about to read. Giving you the chance to focus in on those key concepts or takeaways to help with better comprehension as you read. Not only do you figure where to spend more of your reading time, an added benefit of pre-view is that you can quickly figure out if it is worth a read at all.

All writing has some measure of fluff. We just need help figuring out what is not fluff as quickly and as easily as possible, to better comprehend what we are reading. Pre-viewing helps with this, in addition to giving you a way to read any material faster. There is a lot more you can do to help with comprehension, but you will find this small tip go a long way. Give it a try today.

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