Following is the full transcript of Founder of StudyFast, Jordan Harry’s TEDx Talk: How to Read a Book a Day at TEDxBathUniversity conference. This event occurred on March 24, 2018. To learn more about the speaker, read the bio here.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: How to Read a Book a Day by Jordan Harry at TEDxBathUniversity
Jordan Harry – Founder and CEO of StudyFast
I’d like to introduce you to the person that changed my life. In primary school, I used to have a speech impediment, because I couldn’t pronounce the words; I couldn’t understand them. Therefore my reading speeds suffered and before I knew it reading was my biggest fear.
But this woman right here saw that I had a problem and prioritized taking me to speech therapy every week even if that meant she could never take me on a holiday. This woman is my mother. And here is why I started my 15-year speed-reading journey.
Fast-forward to today, I now have an accelerated reading speed of 1500 words per minute, which is seven times faster than the average untrained reader. I’ve taught over 2,000 people from over a hundred countries. But speed reading isn’t this superpower which only the very few of us could have. Just like any skill it can be learned, and it’s easy when you know how. But first you need an open mindset.
There is no such thing as a bad reader, just those with bad reading habits. So once you know what habits are holding your reading speed back, it’s a lot easier to read faster.
Now the problem is information overload. Reason is many of us in this room haven’t had a class called Reading since we were 12. Yet every other subjects such as Maths and Science has progressively gotten harder. Yet we’re forced to keep up with this information overload with the reading skills of a 12 year-old.
Now at the end of today everyone in this room will leave with some of the speed reading techniques that I have learned that will help you read not only faster but more effectively. But first, let’s take a look at those bad habits.
Bad habit number one: sub-vocalization. Subvocalization is that little voice in your head that you use from time to time when you read. From a young age, many of us are taught to read aloud, and as we progress we then read inside our heads. At least I was.
Studies have shown the average talking speed is 250 words per minute. So it’s no surprise that the average reading speed is between 200 and 250 words per minute. So the average untrained reader can only read as fast as they can talk. So if we want to read faster, we must start to see the words as opposed to hear them. And we do this already.
Picture this: when you see a Stop sign, the word stop are clearly printed. We don’t read the word stop aloud; we understand the meaning of the word, therefore we only see it.
But how do we reduce sub-vocalization right now? We need to distract our brain by using small distractions. So tip number 1: press the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. For two reasons: this will stop you mouthing the words as you’re reading and it will also create a small distraction for your brain, not so large that it will take your mind away from the focus.
Tip number two: your environment. Your environment is key. Have you ever noticed when you walk into a coffee shop that sometimes you see people working and it’s not because of the good caffeine, it’s because coffee shops have learned to create an environment which is optimum for productivity. The environment is not too loud where you get distracted what’s going on around you, nor too quiet where your brain begins to wander. The key is to get the brain into a state of relaxation, whether that’s listen to music without lyrics such as classical music, or studying in a spot which is consistent and personable to you. The key is consistency.
Bad habit number two: Regression. Now by a show of hands who in here’s got to the end of a page and forgot what I just read, or even worse the end of a sentence myself included, and naturally we go back to the top of the page hoping this time somehow the information goes in, but to know that.
The reason is because the author often has to give context so by the time our eyes have reached the key points, we’re exhausted. Picture this: you’re watching a movie and you’re couple scenes in and it doesn’t quite make sense. Almost like you’ve missed a couple key scenes. And then suddenly it clicks; it all makes sense and you understand why the movie was set out the way it was. The reason for this is not a lack of understanding but more so a lapse of concentration.
And one way we can improve our concentration is by becoming an active reader. When our brain wanders it’s because we’ve become passive. What’s one of the most common questions children ask is why. Why do I have to do this? Why do I have to do that? We need to be curious. To find a good answer, we must have good questions. So whilst reading, have good general questions at the front of your mind such as how long will this take for me to read this? What am I looking for? And what key figures and words do I need to find?
Tip number two: gliding. Foot gliding, you will need to use an object such as a credit card or any piece of object that you can use to cover up the sentence you’ve just read. Now the great thing about gliding is it removes your safety net to reread the sentence you’ve just read. Meaning, you’ve got to pay attention to the sentence you’re leading, because you know there’s no way you can go back.