Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers. Wise words from President Harry Truman. From experience, I’ve found this to be true. Walk into any CEO’s office and just take a look at the books he has on his shelves. The books tell a story and it’ll come across in their language, the people they mention, and the concepts they believe in.
We all know the expression, “Knowledge is power,” but unfortunately, it’s not entirely true. There’s a word missing – “potential.” Knowledge is potential power.
Education is where it all begins. Education gives us the foundation and framework from which to work from, but the key is putting it to use.
That’s where the bestselling book, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, got it wrong. It’s not enough to wish for things. No matter how strongly we might want something, we must back up our thoughts with action.
There is no shortage of knowledge in today’s world. Just 30 short years ago, the local library was our best source of information, today it’s our pocket, otherwise known as our smartphone. Google gives us access to information at blinding speed. The premium that knowledge had has vanished. It’s not enough to know in today’s world, it’s about knowing how to sift and sort through the vast amounts of information we have and how to put it to use.
That’s why speed reading is such a valuable tool to have at our disposal. It’s one of the most powerful skills we can have in our high-speed, knowledge-rich environment. Here are five tips to help boost your reading speed.
Strategy # 1: Driver’s Ed
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given was by Brian Tracy who suggested I turned my car into a “mobile classroom.” This was a game changer. Whoever said you had to “read” the books. Our job is to acquire knowledge from them, how we do that is up to us. Thanks to Audibles and audio CDs, we can turn our 50.8-minute commute into some of the most productive time we have.
Strategy # 2: Cliff Notes
Let’s face it, many books in high school English are a bore. No Harry Potter or Jurassic Park (both excellent books), but instead we are forced to read books like Kiss of the Spider Woman or Waiting for Godot. I was under the impression that teachers were supposed to inspire us, not torture us. All I can say is thank goodness for Cliff Notes. Instead of spending days, we can absorb the information in hours. For those top CEOs and executives who want to speed up their knowledge intake, there are Cliff Notes for business books called getabstract where you’ll get an 8-page report that extracts the best insights and ideas the book has to offer.
Strategy # 3: Chip and Dale
I always loved Chip and Dale and the antics they got up to with Donald Duck. Anyone who has ever sped up their voice knows that you’ll sound just like them. But here’s a secret a friend of mine taught me a few years back. By speeding up audio programs 1.2x we won’t even notice a difference. In fact, with a little practice, we can get used to 1.5x speed. That’s an increase of 20-50%. Personally, I’ve stayed at 1.2 and found it to be most helpful. I’d highly recommend you give it a go.
Strategy # 4: 25,000 words a minute
The fastest strategy to improve our reading speed I have ever been taught was NOT to read a book. Gary Bencivenga in his final seminar gave his list of the ten best books on copywriting ever written. He went on to say that if he had to do it all again, he wouldn’t bother reading anything else. He would simply read and reread those ten books over and over again. When I first got the reading bug, I read everything I could get my hands on and now have over 800 books on the topics of marketing, psychology, time management and personal development in my library. But if we apply Pareto’s principle to the books in my library, then 160 of them gave me 80% of the knowledge. Taken one step further, 32 of those books resulted in 64%. In other words, the best bang for my book would have been to focus on those 32 books. By simply being ultra-selective in your choice of books, you’ll free up much of your time, and still acquire a ton of knowledge.
Strategy # 5: Speed Reading Courses
There is no shortage of courses that teach people how to read faster. YouTube has some decent free speed reading programs available. Before you invest in any seminars, you might want to give them some a try. Or check out this TedTalk. The key is to stick with it. I have heard that most people who take speed reading courses revert to their old ways within six months.