Whether you have just started to look into speed reading, or whether you are a frustrated learner who has tried and not mastered the skills yet, there are 6 essential concepts you must understand if you hope to master the skills as a lifelong habit, or skill set.

Notice I mentioned "frustrated learners" in the first paragraph. I have observed that many of my learners come to me as a matter of having not succeeded in learning the skills from trying some program in the past. Without judging the effectiveness of other programs, and just listening to the frustrated learners' complaints, I have discovered that these 6 ideas must be understood if the learner is to be successful. Even learners who engage in a well designed program and who do not understand these essential ideas, will either come to understand them during the training, or they may fail an even well designed program.

These 6 essential ideas are:

1. Speed Reading Requires Training the Brain, Not Just the Eyes. All speed reading programs will teach you how to move your eyes more efficiently through print. Many of these actually do this rather improperly. These include many of the best selling programs. But training the eyes is essential.

However, to master speed reading, you must know that your brain must process the visual inputs. If your mind is not processing the input, you will not read. You must learn how to process (comprehend) the material. At very high speeds, initially this causes the brain to become overloaded. This leads to frustration. Frustration often leads to giving up.

2. Comprehension at high speeds needs to be taught directly. True speed reading is not merely speeding up how you already read. This requires a perceptual shift in the mind as to what we normally perceive comprehension to be. This process can be learned, but because of our ingrained habits of comprehending, it does not happen magically or immediately. The good news is that the brain is an incredible learning machine if we take control of learning how to train and redirect it.

3. Speed Reading Training Is Similar to Muscle Training. It requires continuous conditioning exercises over time. As neuro-science has shown us over the past ten years, the brain is very elastic and pliable. It does and will improve with continuous exercise over time. Many brain trainers have documented amazing results when the participant diligently works with the brain "muscle" reconditioning. Any physical sport provides a useful analogy to training your brain to master speed reading. Are you willing to do the training for lasting results? Just like if you start exercising for a month, and then take some time off, your muscles quickly lose the efficiency they had before the long break. You must do continuous exercise.

4. Speed Reading Requires Overcoming the Myth of Sub-vocalization. Almost all beginning information about speed reading lists the habit of sub-vocalization as one of the biggest problems that holds people back from reading faster. Sub-vocalization is defined as a 4 step process of seeing the words, saying the words in your mind, hearing the words in your mind, and then understanding them. True, sub-vocalization will hold reading speeds under 400-600 words per minute.

However, a speed reader's mind is anything but quiet! A highly efficient speed reader's mind is active and engaged with author - summarizing, questioning the material, commenting on the material in contrast to previous knowledge and learnings, and much more. To master speed reading, you do not want to quiet the mind. You want to awaken it! Sub-vocalization needs to be transitioned to this higher mental interaction. Again, this requires a re-training of the mind.

5. Dealing with the Myth of the Threshold of Speed, Comprehension, and Recall. A common question that is asked is, "How fast is possible," or "Can I learn to read 25,000 words per minute?" In answer to the first question, neuro-science has not been able to answer yet. As for the second question, 25,000 words per minute is an interesting number, but I'm not sure what hat that particular number was pulled from. It is a very fast rate of speed. Technically and theoretically it is possible. However, few people ever achieve it primarily because there is no single speed at which someone reads. You will be faster in some materials and slower in others. Speed ultimately is determined by the response rate in your mind. If your mind does not understand the material, or if you can not immediately recall the material, then it must be questioned as to whether it is really reading at that rate.

Also, from a practical perspective, to read at 25,000 words per minute requires the reader to put him/herself into a brain state that is not our ordinary conscious and awake state. Most people won't do the work required to make that happen.

6. Mastering Speed Reading Requires Personal Coaching. Earlier we used the analogy of physical training. Would you engage in learning any physical skill without a coach? Probably not, especially for fear of injuring yourself. Have you ever mastered any complex new skill without someone's guidance? Did you learn to drive a car by yourself? As Richard Bandler said, you have probably spent more time learning to drive a car than learning to drive your brain. You're not going to master these skills by reading a book. The coach helps guides you through your own set of perceptual limitations. The coach provides the direction back to the map of learning when the learner gets lost.

In closing, it is possible for most people to comfortably read, comprehend, and recall in the thousands of words per minute range with proper training, proper and consistent practicing, learning how to re-train the brain, and replacing sub-vocalization with a highly interactive mind. If the learner commits to these concepts, and does the conditioning, a whole new life of learning awaits them.

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 to read 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 http://speedreadingtactics.com/speed_reading_newsletter.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