The ability to quickly read through a lot of write-ups was a challenge for me. I was used to reading for clear comprehension, trying to get a full understanding of everything I had to read. If I did not understand a particular sentence, I got stuck trying to draw some reason out of it. Sentence by sentence reading as it is called, I was indeed slow. Even in my current workplace where I receive lots of daily e-mails (averaging 250 mails per day), I often miss reading quite a lot due to the slow speed and time constraints. Yes, I knew I had this challenge and had tried in the past to speed my reading up, but it just did not move much.
So, one could imagine my relief and joy when I saw the timetable for the brush-up week at my newly enrolled MBA program at the Lagos Business School. It showed: Day 3- Speed Reading. It was like they knew where to start with me- a befitting welcome into the school of business administration.
Speed Reading Techniques
During the class, we were put through various exercises to review some lengthy write-ups. The lecturer told us to note the speed of our reading and note the improvement as we implemented these tips. Some of the techniques thought included:
- Skimming- especially for journals, newspapers, and magazines;
- Running a finger or pen over the sentences quickly to maintain concentration;
- Avoid talking to oneself while reading;
- Reducing distractions;
- Avoid reading sentences several times.
As we went through some of these, especially the ones to avoid, I realized what my mistakes had been all this while and why my reading was quite slow. Sometimes I would read some sentences several times simply out of lack of concentration. Other times, I would want to read the details of a document instead of skimming first to get an overview. I immediately noticed some improvement in my reading speed even while still within the class while practicing these techniques. All I needed was constant practice.
Stretch the Mind- Yes, I Can Remember.
The mind is capable of more than we give it credit for. I had known this but did not equate it to the ability to remember when reading fast. This was highlighted in the session in a very interesting manner. I realized that even while reading very fast, the mind could be stretched to remember words, statements, or some topics which one could reference much later in the document when needed. This was very obvious during the recall questions that went with each reading exercise during the class. Even though I read some lengthy documents very fast, I realized that I was still able to remember topics or discussions or specific sections detailing some discussions in the write-up. It just meant one does not necessarily have to take it all in during the first reading. Meaning I could move even faster.
My Reading Now.
I had wished we could have had yet another session but at least I had gotten a lot already and still have a long way to go. Right now, my readings are getting faster, email backlogs reducing and I am doing even better on the cases studies in school. And when on those very rare occasions I miss reading the course cases or minutes of meeting very early before the class or meeting respectively, I utilized this skill to quickly catch up and participate actively in the discussions.