I just got an email from someone who writes, " The reason I am writing is that a client of mine is doing a computer speed reading program called (name protected). He mentioned that while his speed has increased dramatically, his comprehension has gone down. Is this normal? "

The short answer is yes. However, it is not normal for all programs on effective speed reading. The writer touches on a very sore spot for me, a researcher, educator, and trainer on accelerated learning for 30 years. The problem is with the word "speed." Unfortunately the general population is most often mis-guided on this topic because of that word – SPEED – and they forget the second word in the phrase "reading." So when someone wants to learn the skills of reading more effectively combining speed and comprehension, they get sold on speed. Some programs promise to have read materials at 20,000 words per minute!

"Reading" can be defined as the mind's response or interpretation of printed material. If your eyes go through material at 100-100,000 words per minute and you have no clue about the material, it's not reading! Because so many programs in the marketplace focus almost exclusively, if not completely on the eye movements, comprehension takes a back seat, or doesn't even get a place in the program. That was the problem with the person mentioned above.

This common approach and experience has led to an ever increasing pile of commentary on "speed reading" which has maligned the topic and the few practitioners who focus on both speed and comprehension together. Speed is sexy. It sells. But comprehension requires your mind to be engaged. This requires attention and work. That's not sexy. Work is hard. But comprehension can become easier when you know how to do it. Unfortunately, most of the sellers of programs in the marketplace do not have a clue and take it for granted or blame the user's ineptness.

As I continue to do competitive surveillance of the market, nearly everything from e-books to 16 minute audios promise what they can't deliver. I recently bought one of the computerized speed programs. It contained less than 300 words dealing with comprehension.

For years I wouldn't use the word "speed" in naming my programs for the reasons above. Most people think, "Read fast! Forget faster!" But I have seen so many people's lives and careers change so much for the better after they gain the confidence from learning the skills properly to sit by the sidelines and keep the message quiet that there is a better way to learn.

Do yourself a favor if you're researching and considering "speed reading." Be sure to investigate the program's emphasis on comprehension. Because comprehension is your mind's response to the print, you need proper instruction and support. I'd like to invite you to learn more about this at the link below.

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: www.speedreadingtactics.com/free_speed_reading_tips.html and download the free eBook, "The 10 Top Mistakes When Learning Speed Reading."

Additional Resources covering Speed Reading can be found at:

Website Directory for Speed Reading
Articles on Speed Reading
Products for Speed Reading
Discussion Board
Ed Caldwell, the Official Guide To Speed Reading