Double your reading speed with this odd little trick

November 20, 2009 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Productivity 

Copywriting isn’t just about writing, it’s also about reading. A lot of reading.

If you’re like me, you’ll spend anywhere from 25% to 50% of every project reading background materials, ads, reports, surveys, and notes. And then there are the books, blog posts, articles, and other things you’ll read to stay current.

Obviously, the faster you can read, the more productive you can be.  If you can double your reading speed, you can double your productivity.

There are many things you can do to read faster, but I’ve learned one of the most important is to stop subvocalizing. Say what?

Subvocalizing is pronouncing every word you read, either under your breath or in your head. By learning how to read visually, seeing words and grasping their meaning without the sound of the word, you can double your reading speed.

This is easier said than done. So here is a video that demonstrates a weird trick to help you get out of the subvocalizing habit and boost your reading speed. (You may not want to do this when people are around. They might start to worry about your sanity.)

Do you have any other tricks for reading faster?

Related posts:

  1. 7 writing workflow tips to double your writing speed
  2. Dazzle Your Clients and Double Your Income

>>> Subscribe to blog by RSS or E-mail

Smart Comments

22 Comments on Double your reading speed with this odd little trick

  1. Heath on Nov 20th, 2009 1:44 pm
  2. There’s an easier step to use to double or triple your reading speed. Use your finger, a pencil, paperclip, or anything else that can be used as a pointer. Put the pointer under the beginning word of a sentence. Move the pointer across the line, then go to the beginning of the next line and go across again. Keep going until you’re done reading.

    One thing we do, but don’t realize it, is re-read words (approximately 50% of them). By following the pointer you are not allowing yourself to re-read words. Assuming you re-read 50% of the material, you’ll double your speed using this method.

    Once you learn this technique, then apply the sub-vocalization rule. That’ll increase your reading speed even more.

  3. Dean Rieck on Nov 20th, 2009 1:51 pm
  4. Heath,
    There are lots of tips for reading fast. Using a pointer, chunking, pre-scanning material before you read it, etc. I was just presenting what I think is the most difficult issue for readers. Have you tried actual “speed reading”? Do you find that it works.

  5. Louis on Nov 20th, 2009 8:43 pm
  6. I seriously doubt many people can use this technique and have good results. Short-term results might be possible, but retention of material will, in my opinion, be very low.
    .-= Louis’s last blog … The Right Way to Add Custom List Markers to Unordered Lists =-.

  7. Dean Rieck on Nov 20th, 2009 8:52 pm
  8. Louis,
    Remember, this is just an exercise to help turn off the voice in your head pronouncing text as you read it. You don’t use it for actual reading.

    I come from a background in TV and radio, so it’s hard for me to not “hear” words as I read them.

  9. Donovan Owens on Nov 22nd, 2009 2:28 pm
  10. Very interesting. I’m wondering how effective this really is. I’ll have to give it a shot.
    .-= Donovan Owens’s last blog … Busy Women Bootcamps Guarantee =-.

  11. Dean Rieck on Nov 22nd, 2009 4:39 pm
  12. Donovan,
    Try it and let me know. I’m not big on speaking out loud as this video suggests, but I’ve tried humming and making a shh sound to drown out the words in my head.

  13. John Wallace on Dec 1st, 2009 5:01 pm
  14. I used to teach speed reading. Though the “school” kind of reminded me of The Music Man, there was some value in the instruction. What I remembered and practice is stretching your eye muscles so you are taking in one line at a time, not a few words at a time. That’s what the old Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics taught except they had you run your index finger down the page ahead of your eye.

    It does work, however the comprehension does not last. It’s good for reading articles and books out of interest, because you won’t remember quite as much as with a conventional reading method.

    Good video and tutorial, thank you.


  15. Michelle on Dec 1st, 2009 5:15 pm
  16. Taught this technique to my 15 year old. It’s the only way he could get his summer reading finished in time. Wish I had known about it when I was 15!! (Of course I do still read “to myself” when reading for leisure. )
    .-= Michelle’s last undefined … If you register your site for free at =-.

  17. Dean Rieck on Dec 1st, 2009 5:22 pm
  18. Michelle,
    Excellent. Glad to hear it works.

  19. David Spinks on Dec 1st, 2009 7:00 pm
  20. hahaha…I was subvocalizing this post as I read it until I got to the point where you said “stop subvocalizing”.

    It worked. Will have to give it some practice. Thanks for the tip.

    Community Manager,
    .-= David Spinks’s last undefined … If you register your site for free at =-.

  21. Regina Holliday on Dec 1st, 2009 8:29 pm
  22. I learned speed reading in school in sixth grade. I have read that way ever since. I forgot people still sub vocalize. WOW! That must make life awful. Thank you for reminding me what a blessing speed reading is.

  23. Stefanie on Dec 1st, 2009 9:03 pm
  24. Great point about using this technique for “things you’ll read to stay current.” If you’re doing general research or simply like to keep up on news/trends, often you just need to understand ideas rather than every single detail. Reading faster will make these tasks more productive, no doubt.

    Skeptics shouldn’t think of this technique as the “be-all, end-all” way to read, but rather as a tool that can help you in certain circumstances.

    I definitely stay in “detail mode” when proofreading or editing a document–I have to be 100% thorough. However, I love tips like this for other types of reading! Thanks!

  25. Brian Danowski on Dec 2nd, 2009 1:10 am
  26. Here is another technique that is related to using a pointer and subvocalizing This technique helps teach your eyes to move across the page more efficiently.

    When subvocalizing, your eyes stops on each word. This means that your eyes have to stop about 10 times each line.

    To start teach your eyes to stop only three time a line: beginning middle end.

    Once you master this, you can eliminate stopping in the middle. This means that your eyes stop twice per line: beginning and end.

    Eventually if you master these first two steps your can teach your eyes to move vertically down the page reading a line at a time.
    .-= Brian Danowski’s last blog … the ganggle conspiracy =-.

  27. Kris Madden on Dec 2nd, 2009 12:07 pm
  28. Thanks for posting my video Dean. I’m glad you liked it. My book “Learn to Speed Read” came out at the beginning of the month. It’s a six-week course, and goes through a series of techniques to lessen the habit of sub-vocalizing.

    You can read and download it for Free on GoogleBooks or Scribd, and the paperback version is available through Amazon or through my website. I also have new videos under my profile: krismadden789. Like “Read Faster by holding your breath”. So if you’re not a fan of saying 1-2-3-4, you might try one of those out.

    Thanks again, and enjoy the rest of my work.
    .-= Kris Madden’s last blog … Happy Thanksgiving! =-.

  29. Read Faster on Dec 15th, 2009 5:17 pm
  30. [...] I read a post that teaches you to double your reading speed … and made the following [...]

    [...] I read a post that teaches you to double your reading speed … and made the following [...]

  31. Peggy on Jun 23rd, 2010 2:05 am
  32. I realized reading this that I sub vocalize, I never know that. I’ve been trying to work on it, but I’ve done it for over 40 years. I am going to get some speed reading software. I think that will help.

    [...] я прочитал статью, которая учит, как удвоить скорость чтения… и [...]

  33. Michael Soininen on Mar 10th, 2011 9:49 am
  34. Interesting. Will have to try it.

    [...] you’re interested in learning one way to stop subvocalizing, watch the video I posted on my copywriting blog. The technique is a little strange, but give it a whirl and let me know if it works for you. Share| [...]

  35. Cours dressage canin on Aug 10th, 2011 9:37 am
  36. Good techniques. Another technique I used to do to improve my reading speed is to look at the next word before I read it. That means when saying on word, at the same I am looking at the next word after.
    Good article


  37. Rex Tang/thespeedreading consultant on Sep 27th, 2011 1:48 am
  38. Amazing techniques that you have!!!Keep up the good work!