Speed Reading to Read Faster? It is Just a Matter of Belief

Just recently I worked with a client organisation to help them become more effective readers by teaching them speed reading so they could read faster.

In this short 5 minute video I discuss the biggest problem I encounter when helping people with their reading and what you can do about it:

Improving your reading speed can be life changing if you consider the impact it can have on your productivity, work rate and effectiveness.

If you are like me then you probably have to read a tremendous amount of information every single day as part of your profession.

Sometimes the volume can be quite overwhelming and so having the ability to cut through it all in half, a third or even a quarter of the time is extremely appealing.

I know it was for me when I first encountered the techniques over 20 years ago and the same appears to be true to the many people I have taught these too over the years.

Most People Don’t Believe They Can Double Their Reading Speed

Whilst the idea of doubling your reading speed (and more) seems like a great idea, many people simply do not believe it is possible.

Having spent so many years doing something that was drilled into them at school in a particular people think that their reading abilities are “normal” and that anything faster is “abnormal” or certainly unnatural.

My former mentor Tony Buzan likes to say that “normal is not necessarily natural” and what he means by that is as a human race we have settled for far less in our thinking abilities than we are truly capable and we consider this below par performance as “natural”.

So when someone like me stands in front of a group of people and promises to show them how they can double their reading speed, as much as they want to have that ability, most have at least a nagging doubt that even if it is possible, it probably isn’t something they can do.

Sometimes it is issues of low self esteem and confidence that create these feelings but generally it is a matter of belief.

Of course the problem is further compounded during a training session because it is necessary to “let go” of the old way and try a newer, more effective way.

Now not only does this feel unnatural and uncomfortable (because it is so different not because I have them reading upside down doing hand stands!) but initially whilst they are adjusting to the techniques, it feels like their reading abilities have taken a HUGE step back.

Getting Used To Reading At Higher Speeds Feels Uncomfortable At First But Only Because You Are Not Used To It and Not Because You Cant

Pushing through these feelings and letting go of the need to do it in the old way are vital to making the leap to the other side where all of the rewards of being able to read much faster are.

But it is possible and when a group trust the facilitator and try the techniques, pushing past those “normal” beliefs, the results can appear to be truly magical (but in reality are just evidence of what we can all do quite naturally).

Below you will see the table of results from the course mentioned in the video above.

In the left hand column you will see the baseline reading speeds taken at the start of the day.

The group were invited to read a piece of writing (I think it was an article about the oil industry) for one minute and were instructed to read for “normal comprehension” in that they must read so they understood every word.

There is always an interesting need for clarification at this stage of the day that comprehension does not mean they should be able to remember what they have read (to be able to recall it).

I won’t go into it right now but if you go to the post “How Do I Remember What I Read”, you will find more about that point there.

So the figures in the left hand column represent the baseline reading speed at the start of the day in words per minute.

After taking that initial test I then put the group through the reading development programme stacking a variety of techniques to increase their reading speed in stages.

The Way To Increase Your Reading Speed Is To Practice The Techniques and Trust

Each technique is explained and then practiced on a variety of reading material so they can get used to it before moving onto the next one.

Then at the end of the day, having exercised their new found reading skills, I test them again by giving them a new piece of writing, similar to the first in style and content  and seeing how many words they can now read.

The important point to note at this stage is that the instructions for this test are exactly the same as for the baseline test done in the morning they are to read for normal comprehension (see above to remind you of the issues around that).

As you see in the second column of results there is a significant improvement in the reading speed.

The interesting thing about this second reading test is that the group wont have felt any different to the first test in their minds they probably think they are doing exactly what they did first time round.

The only difference is that after the training and practice they have received their eyes and brain have not only become more efficient and effective, they have adjusted to the faster rate as well.

They key to achieving such remarkable improvements in such a short space of time are of course in part due to the techniques used but more importantly is overcoming the self limiting beliefs that get in the way.

Because if you don’t suspend what you believe to be true about reading when you attend one of these courses and trust that it will work (and I can vouch that it does) then it wont matter how good the techniques are because you will always stay at what is a very slow rate (but one that you think is normal!).

Speed Reading Course Results


Initial Speed

Final Speed




So if you want to increase the rate at which you read and have a go at this thing we call “Speed Reading”, then understand you CAN radically improve your reading speed but you have to trust that it is possible.