If you have been searching for information about speed reading, you probably have been confused by both the abundance of information as well as the contradictions in the statements and "facts" you read. One of the most common statements someone who is looking for free information about the topic will see is, "speed reading is merely about skimming, scanning, and key-wording." Is this statement true, or false?

As a user and teacher of the skills for over 30 years, I can empathically state that the statement is false. Beware when you see this type of statement that the person who wrote it does not understand the process and is probably not a trained reading professional. This statement is one of the most common myths you will discover. Let's explore each piece of this myth to clarify your understanding.

First, let's examine the technique of scanning. Scanning, by definition, is to glance from point to point often hastily, casually, or in search of a particular item. When you scan you have something in mind you are looking for. We may scan the telephone book for a particular person's number, scan the newspaper ads for a job, but we do not scan a new book, report, manual, etc. if we want to master it. Scanning may be used as an after reading technique, but is not speed reading. You can not merely scan a document and expect to know it. It can be a single tool in the speed reading tactics toolkit.

Next, let's examine the statement, "Speed reading is merely skimming." Again this is false. Skimming is sample reading portions of text - reading a sentence or two here and there, a paragraph or page here and there. Skimming is a good "pre-reading" technique, but is not "dynamic speed reading" in itself. Again it can be a single tool in the speed reader's toolkit, but is incomplete as a way to describe speed reading.

Finally we get to the statement of key-wording. Sometime this approach is described as "skipping." Key-wording is an old speed reading technique where the learner was told "don't focus on the unimportant words," such as, "a," "the," "of." This cannot be done. Again, it is a myth. Prove it and try this yourself: Sit opposite someone who is about your height and look at their face. While you do this, try to not see their nose. You can't do that! Sight, the mechanical part of reading, is impartial. Or in other words, you cannot not see something within your field of vision. Read that last sentence again. Yes, there is a double negative, but please consider its meaning. Your mind may not register or respond to something your eyes see, but that is another issue. In fact, not mentally registering the words your eyes have seen is the issue of comprehension which any speed reading program should cover in depth.

So now that we have reviewed and debunked one of the great myths about speed reading, I hope you will decide to get some effective training in this vital skill. I encourage you to write me with your comments and questions.

Author's Bio: 

Ed Caldwell is the creator and publisher of the "Masters Online Program: Dynamic Reading, Memory, and Recall" and other live and web-based learning programs. As former National Director of Instruction and Certification for the world famous Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics program, Ed has 30 years experience teaching and testing new strategies to help people from all walks of life learn more efficiently. Trainer, speaker, and writer, he can be contacted at inquiry@productivelearn.com. He is the creator and president of Productive Learning Systems, Inc, and ProductivElearn.com, Inc. You can learn more at speedreadingtactics.com and download the free eBook, "The 10 Top Mistakes When Learning Speed Reading."