“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance” – Confucius
The Digital Age is characterized by knowledge-driven economies driven by innovation based on research, and the push for continuous improvement.
The Knowledge – Driven Economy
Adam Hayes (as cited on Investopedia, 2021) defined a knowledge economy as “a system of consumption and production that is based on intellectual capital.” Intellectual capital is “an intangible asset of a company that contributes to its bottom line. It is the value of a company’s employee knowledge, skills, or any proprietary information that may provide the company with a competitive advantage” (Investopedia, 2021).
To remain relevant in the modern world, reading is imperative for transforming information into knowledge. Reading stimulates our imagination, thus enhancing creativity and innovation.
The sheer volume of available literature on print and electronically is indeed overwhelming. Most individuals are inundated by information overload. Yet executives are expected to have a broad perspective on a variety of topics. Such knowledge can only be gained by reading.
In a bid to make critical decisions, busy executives must read and comprehend lengthy reports, memorandums, board papers, etc. amidst strict deadlines.
Is Speed Reading an Important Skill?
Speed reading is a method used to improve one’s ability to read and comprehend quickly. Markedly, speed reading is a necessary tool for Executives, and its importance cannot be overemphasized. Whether you are reading work documents, academic material, news (domestic and global), opinions, magazines, books, or the contents of a computer display, it is pertinent to groom one’s speed-reading skills.
Relationship between Speed and Comprehension
It is noteworthy that speed reading is not an attempt to sacrifice comprehension on the altar of speed.
What is Good Reading Fluency?
Most of us are slow or average readers, reaching only around 200 words per minute (wpm) with a typical comprehension of 60%. The UN definition of functional literacy is the ability to read at 400 words per minute. This is considered good reading fluency.
Speed Reading Techniques
- Skimming and Scanning. Focus on the big picture, not on the fine details. Speed reading is aimed at getting an overview of the material. Duggan & Payne (September 2009) conducted experiments to determine the effectiveness of skim reading. They concluded that subjects got a better understanding of the principal objects of the text after skimming through the full text than after reading only half the text normally.
- Guiding the eye. This means using the tip of your index finger, a pen, or the cursor of your device and moving it across the page at the line you’re reading from left to right.
- Avoid back skipping. In a bid to comprehend material, people unconsciously read the same text twice. This repetition noticeably reduces the speed of reading. Trust your brain! You do not have to re-read that text while skimming.
- Quit sub-vocalization. This is the practice of saying the words in your head. It is one of the greatest barriers to speed reading.
- Build a robust vocabulary bank. You’ll read faster if you know more words.
- Practice. Practice. Jim Trelease in his book -The Read-Aloud Handbook said: “The more you read, the better you get, the better you get, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it.”
Reflections of an HSP