As a speed reading coach, I am frequently asked the question, "How can I increase my comprehension as well as my speed?" It seems that everyone gets the "speed" of the eyes part, but the comprehension, or understanding of the material is the question, or challenge for most people. The speed of the eyes is not as important as the speed of the mind's response to the print.

First, all approaches to speed reading gives training in the movement of the eyes. The goal is to make the mechanical aspect of speed reading as efficient as possible. There are various approaches to accomplishing this. Unfortunately some of the programs are based on an outdated approach of expanding "visual eye-span," or how many words the eyes can take in for each stop, or fixation.

Rather than focus on enlarging eye span, the training should be approached to increasing the size of "meaning units." A meaning unit contains various numbers of words per fixation. It is better determined by the number of meaningful words for each eye stop. Word meaning groups can vary in size and shape over the printed page. Thus "training" to take in x number of words for each stop/fixation is a mis-guided approach that many/most programs teach.

So rather than focus on "word groups," the training should recognize that the natural sight experience is dimensional. What this means for the reader is that the eyes take in words sometimes 3-6 lines at a time, and depending on the width of the print, the eyes do not necessarily go horizontally, but vertically as well for each stop.

This "searching for meaning" does not require the regimented pacing with x number of words across the line in "word groups," but moving the eyes in a more natural flow to allow the mind to find the meaning from the words. It is your mind that is drawn to the meaningful words. In fact, the mind often overlooks non-meaningful words like, "a," the," "of," etc. This is also why proof-reading is very hard. The mind fills in what should be there.

When the mind responds in a meaningful way to the print, comprehension begins.

To get the mind to respond to the print, prepare using these techniques:

1. Before starting, clear your mind. The mind is designed to focus on one thing at a time. Because this is contrary to our everyday functioning in today's work world, you need to remind yourself to do this. Concentration is required for all effective reading, whether it is done speedily or not.

2. Look over the whole of the document to get your mind into the "ballpark" (concept) of what you're reading.

3. Establish your purpose. Why are you reading this? What do you need to find out? Etc.

4. If the document is several pages, or book long, skim read and sample read.

5. Summarize frequently and ask yourself questions about your comprehension at well-defined points.

6. Read a wider variety of subjects to give your mind a broader database to draw it's response. Inefficient readers tend not to read widely enough beyond what they need to in order to get by. Thus comprehension is more of a challenge.

By practicing these and other mind-responding tactics, your mind will be better prepared to respond much more quickly to the print in a meaningful way. As you do this, the speed of the eyes serves only as the mechanics to get your mind to respond. Otherwise moving your eyes at 5000 words per minute is meaningless.

Speed reading can and should only be measured then, as the speed of the mind's response to the print. This is comprehension. In fact, a well trained speed reader can read in the thousands of words per minute range and does this with better comprehension because the mind is totally engaged. If the reader is focused and concentrates on the subject matter with the mind being fully absorbed, comprehension will improve. You can learn how to do this. All it takes is proper training and proper practice.

To master your speed reading, you need to find the balance between the speed of the eyes going through the material with the speed of your mind responding to the print in a meaningful way. To learn more about this relationship of speed and comprehension, I invite you to take advantage of more speed reading tips at:

Author's Bio: 

Cut through the maze of mis-information and myths about speed reading and get real facts, tips, and articles from the speed reading expert, Ed Caldwell, who has researched, tested and trained tens of thousands of learners in the art and science of dynamic speed reading. Get instant access to tips, mini-sessions, and articles at