What are speed reading techniques and when are they useful?

Today it is common for us to process a large amount of written information, whether in emails, websites, work reports, social networks, training books. Therefore, we wish to have a faster reading. So we could take advantage of the time and stay informed.

The good news is that it is possible to increase the speed with which we read. Average reading is between 150 and 250 words per minute (wpm). If a series of techniques are put into practice it is possible to increase the rate and be able to read up to 700 ppm.

If you want to know what these speed reading techniques consist of and when they are useful to practice them, read on.

What is the fast reading?

Speed ​​reading is the process by which the person identifies and assimilates entire sentences at a glance, rather than recognizing each word individually. Some people are born with this ability, but those of us who do not have it can develop it with practice.

Speed ​​reading does not seek to sacrifice comprehension. On the contrary, its effectiveness lies in achieving a balance between the rhythm and the global analysis of the content. Therefore, the ideal is to understand the meaning of the text without wasting time.

There are studies that suggest that speed reading (as long as it is done properly) is more productive slow reading. Especially for those people who must process and handle a lot of information written during the day.

The benefits include the following:

  • It allows to read, understand and analyze the text in less time.
  • Develops the ability to associate between known and new concepts.
  • Sharpen the recognition of main ideas.
  • Produces less eye strain.
  • Increase linguistic ability.

Also read: 6 benefits of reading that you will like to know

When can speed reading be useful?

This process is helpful in the following circumstances:

  • If you have difficulty reading: you go back in the text to understand the main idea or you read slower than normal. Speed ​​reading techniques can help you boost your reading skills.
  • You need to document yourself on a topic that is easy to read or that you already know.
  • When you need to understand only the basic arguments or the conclusions of a written material.
  • If you intend to re-examine the text in detail at another time. A study found that taking a look at the material can improve understanding of the text the second time.
  • After carefully reading the material. Quick-read reviews anchor the information.

When is it not recommended?

It sounds wonderful to be able to read and understand any written material in the shortest time possible. However, speed reading is not recommended or effective at all times. It is discouraged in the following scenarios:

  • When you should read a legal document or one that contains complex information. These materials require careful thought. It has been proven that the faster you read, the less understanding. Although the intention of speed reading is to achieve a balance between speed and understanding, in these cases it is best to bet on the greatest possible understanding.
  • If you want to memorize something. Here it is best to read slowly, at less than 100 words per minute.

Speed ​​reading techniques

Acquiring reading speed implies developing physical and mental skills that require method and practice. Consequently, if you want to increase the pace of your reading it is important that you perform a series of techniques constantly and systematically.

Likewise, it is advisable to develop comprehension, concentration and retention strategies at the same time.

Avoid subvocalization

Subvocalization (also known as inner voice) consists of mental pronunciation of words while reading. This habit is one of the main reasons that reading slows down.

Consequently, to read faster it is essential to eliminate subvocalization. At first it will be difficult for you to avoid the habit and you will think that you are not understanding anything you read. But remember that it is a matter of perseverance and practice.

Pointer method

Another tool that will help speed up your reading rate is point to the line you are reading with your index finger, a pencil or other object that serves as a pointer. This will increase your focus and concentration on the words.


It is one of the most used techniques in speed reading. It consists of recognizing the main ideas of the content through a scan with the eyes.

It's not about reading every word, but about identifying key elements of the text. This is useful when you need to locate specific dates, names, and places.

To do this, the first sentence of each paragraph is usually read and then an attempt is made to identify the important phrases within each of them. It is also useful to search for items such as lists, captions, charts, and indexes. At the end, an integration is made to capture the main idea.

Avoid rereading

Going back in the text is usually a very common practice when we are not understanding. Thus, we reread in order to identify what we missed and that does not allow us to absorb the idea of ​​content.

Nevertheless, this causes more delay and has a negative impact in understanding the material.

Develop reading comprehension

There is no use reading quickly if you do not understand what you are reading. Therefore, it is also essential to develop our ability to understand the meaning of the text.

For this we recommend the following:

  • Expand your vocabulary: This involves learning new words and the different meanings they may have depending on the context.
  • Take notes and summarize: when writing and summarizing we are forced to interpret the information read.
  • Know the main topic in advance: Knowing what the text is about will help you understand the true meaning of words and phrases.
  • Leaf through the text before reading: This will help you understand the main idea.
  • Ask questions: After leafing through the text, write those questions that you want to answer with the reading. This will help structure the thinking and verbalize the responses.

Discover: 4 tips to get children to love reading

How to practice these techniques?

It is advisable to learn one speed reading technique at a time and use simple texts. In principle, identify which modality is the most suitable for you and practice it slowly until you recognize how to do it well. Then pick up the pace.

It is normal that at the beginning you do not understand the meaning of the text. But with practice you will be training your brain at a faster reading rate. The technique will become a habit.

For its part, there are a variety of books and online courses that are aimed at offering the necessary tools to acquire speed reading. Ideally, you can access one of them and follow the directions they provide.

Speed ​​reading saves us time

Speed ​​reading is a skill that is learned with practice. It may be difficult at first, but the important thing is to keep trying.

To facilitate the process, create a suitable environment. That is, find a place free of interruptions and with a suitable light tone. Also, avoid reading when you feel tired or overwhelmed.

Finally, so you can measure your progress, assess your reading pace before trying the techniques. Then monitor how long it takes to read as you train. In this way, you will know if the efforts are paying off.