Speed reading – part 2

We have already seen how making a conscious effort can help improve speed of reading, whether through reducing the length of pauses between fixation or by reducing actual fixation points.


Speed can also be improved by increasing the number of words attempted in each block. This can be done by gradually expanding the number of words you read at a time. 

You may also find that you can increase the number of words in each block by holding the text a little further from your eyes. This increases your vision – both physically and in terms of aspiration.

Guiding the eyes

A guide for the eyes has been shown to improve the speed of reading significantly. 

Despite the fact that our eyes are only capable of seeing approximately 5-6 words at a time, there seems to be something of a stigma attached to using a guide, perhaps because we associate this with poor reading ability, childhood etc.

According to Tony Buzan, the best type of guide is a long, slim object such as a pen or a pencil, which does not obscure the text you are reading. This can minimise the amount of work the eyes have to do and create a clear focus. 

When using a guide, you can achieve the optimum effect by moving it smoothly under the lines you are reading and by guiding your eyes only down the middle section of the page.


Speed reading is under-pinned by confidence. Many of us do not attempt it because we fear that to employ the techniques of speed reading might reduce our understanding of the information we need to retain.

In fact, research shows that in 80% of cases where readers were not allowed to back-skip they discovered their eye had actually taken in the information and they absorbed it as they read the next few lines.

Increasing speed does not reduce comprehension and there is evidence to suggest that the opposite is true. This is perhaps because speed reading involves taking a strategic approach to reading and therefore, creates an organised framework on which to base understanding.

The characterising a skilled reader are someone who will:

  • Linger on each block of words for only a moment and then move on
  • Only rarely allow their eyes to skip back to a previous block of words
  • Reduce the amount of work their eyes have to do
  • Increase the volume of information that can be examined in a period of time
  • Have a good grasp of the flow and structure of the text
  • Have a good overall understanding of the material
  • Probably like reading