Getting People To Read Faster – It Is So Much Fun

I really enjoy teaching people how to read faster when I run a Speed Reading Workshop or Training Session.  It is one of those things where you can get a real tangible result very quickly and show how people can not only rapidly increase their reading speed but also gain extra hours and begin to manage that information mountain that is otherwise known as the “In Tray”.

Today I have been working with the council in one of the North East’s major cities and had the privilege of teaching speed reading to the leader of the council, one of the his colleagues from the opposition and some senior council staff.

It doesn’t really matter which organisation I work with, the issues are always the same.  Too much information and too little time to deal with it.  The terms “drowning” and “overwhelm” are common responses to the first question I always ask which is about how they feel about the quantity of information that they have to deal with.

Now in its simplest terms, effective information management is about having good strategic strategies (i.e. what you actually read and how you deal with it) and efficient tactical skills (how you actually use your eyes when you read).  What I really want to do when I teach people how to speed read is widen their range of reading speeds AND show them how to cut through the meat and get to the bone of whatever it is they are reading.

Good speed reading is more about getting rid of the bad habits that hold you back rather than actually giving you additional skills to increase your speed (although they do come into it).

Today’s group was typical of all of the groups I work with.  Initially hopeful and possibly sceptical but gradually realising their powerful reading ability, rapidly increasing their reading speed and the possibilities that are now open to them for being more effective with their time.

One of the first exercises that you absolutely have to do is to get a baseline measure of the group’s reading speed so that you can show how the techniques have improved how quickly they do read (or not as the case may be :-)).

With today’s group we started with reading speeds in the range of 300 – 442 words per minute.  This is at the high end of the normal range which is between 250-400 wpm.

One of the reasons that it was at the top end of normal is that when faced with masses of information to read, many people’s speed naturally gets quicker out of necessity.  If these people went to a less information intensive environment then their reading speed would naturally return to an average of about 250 words per minute.

So the pressure of reading drives up the reading speed.  The problem with this is that the reader has no control of what speed they read at outside the average range of 250 – 400 wpm (because it does not follow that this pressure alone will take reading speeds up to the 1000+ wpm rate.

So what happened with the delegates on my course?

Well after working with me for just less than a normal council working day, the average reading speed went up to 700-1590 wpm.  Not only that, they were more confident about their reading abilities and felt much more in control of the reading that they had to do.

The leader of the council had brought an particularly “nasty piece of work” that may have taken him 2-3 days of intensive reading before he had attended the course.  Now he is faced with about 2-3 hours of more leisurely reading because he now knows how to go straight to the heart of the material he HAS to read in a matter of 20 minutes and he knows how to read that much faster.

The power of effective reading never fails to amaze me.  What do you think your reading speed is and are you overwhelmed with information?