Social Proof

How to read faster & retain more

Speechify is the #1 audio reader in the world. Get through books, docs, articles, PDFs, emails - anything you read - faster.
Gwyneth Paltrow
English Female Voice
Snoop Dogg
English Male Voice
English Male Voice
Mr. Beast
English Male Voice
Try for free

Featured In

Wall Street JournalForbesOCBSTimeThe New York Times
Listen to this article with Speechify!

There are certain things in life we end up taking for granted. For a lot of people out there, how to read faster is one of them. See tips for reading faster.

There are certain things in life that, despite our best of intentions, we end up taking for granted. For a lot of people out there, how to read faster is one of them.

The key thing to understand is that reading is about a lot more than just "another way to pass the time." Some of the finest works of art ever conceived originated in printed form. The collected works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. William Shakespeare. Mark Twain. The list goes on and on.

Not only that, but reading for pleasure brings with it a wide range of different health benefits, too. Not only does it go a long way towards improving someone's focus, but it also has a positive impact on their memory, their empathy and even their ability to communicate with other people. Picking up a good book every once in awhile can also help reduce stress, which itself goes a long way towards improving someone's mental health.

All of this is to say that reading is very much a good thing in more ways than one. But if you're the type of person who thinks that you can't enjoy that great new novel because there simply isn't enough time in a day when you consider all of your other obligations, don't worry. If you want to learn how to read faster, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

The Reading Habits of Successful People: Breaking Things Down

If you're in need of a solid argument for fast reading, look no farther than some of the most successful people in a variety of different fields.

Cliff Weitzman, the CEO of Speechify, prides himself on his ability to read more than 100 books per year. This is because he reads at 600+ words per minute.

Bill Gates, Microsoft pioneer and once the richest man on Earth, reads at about 750 words per minute. He manages to get to 50 books per year.

Warren Buffett, another massively successful billionaire, says that he spends between five and six hours a day - every day - reading. In addition to digesting not one but five newspapers, he also reads more than 500 pages of corporate reports.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says that he makes it a priority to read at least one book every two weeks. Elon Musk's brother insists that all throughout his childhood, the Tesla visionary read two books per day. Mark Cuban spends at least three hours every day reading.

By now, you're probably noticing something of a pattern.

The co-founder of Home Depot Arthur Blank, billionaire entrepreneur David Rubenstein, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert - the one thing they all have in common is that they all devote a portion of their day to reading as much as they can because they understand the value that it brings to their lives.

Does this mean that if you simply force yourself to learn how to improve your reading speed, or consume more books that you'll become a billionaire like most of the people on this list? No.

But it certainly couldn't hurt to try.

The Major Benefits of Learning How to Read Faster

On the topic of learning how to increase your reading speed, it's essential to note that this itself brings with it a host of unique benefits that can't be ignored.

Chief among them is the fact that being a speed reader is actually more efficient than reading at a "traditional" pace. Speed reading is not to be confused with "skimming" something, which is when you quickly scan a page trying to identify certain keywords or phrases so that you can get the basic gist of what is going on.

No, speed reading is different - you're training your brain to process information as quickly as possible, which ultimately leads to a more efficient experience in a fraction of the time it would normally take.

Another way that speed reading is different from skimming is that, with practice, you will retain what you're reading when you do so quickly. You can still read every word at a time and increase your speed, but it might not be as efficient.

These days, you can even employ modern technology to help you out with your goal. Text-to-speech software (also called TTS for short) allows you to take the printed word and convert it into audio that you can listen to not only on your computer but also on a smartphone, tablet or any other mobile device you happen to have. These audio conversions are completely accurate and you can also control the playback speed. So if you want to listen to a book while you're working out or shopping at the grocery store at 2x or even 4x speed, you absolutely can - allowing you to have that experience that you're after while saving as much time in the process.

You can even use text to speech to listen along with the physical book you have in your hand. You can follow the voice track along with the highlighted text, which essentially creates two different inputs for the brain. Not only are you seeing the words, but you're hearing them at your desired speed.

Studies have shown that multiple inputs are always better for retention than one alone. It's why children in school tend to do better when they're learning via a device like an iPad versus a traditional textbook. Not only are they seeing the words on the page, but they're controlling it via touch - again offering the brain two different inputs during the experience as it unfolds.

Learning How to Read Fast: An Overview

By far, the most important step you can take in your quest to learn how to read faster involves focusing on keywords whenever possible. Rarely do you ever need to read an entire sentence to understand the information that the author is trying to convey. Train your eye to hone in on keywords and you'll get the same idea in a much shorter amount of time.

Another way to learn how to read faster involves avoiding subvocalizing whenever possible. This is when, as you scan over the words on a page, you invariably end up reading them out loud. Keep in mind that the brain functions far faster than the mouth does - meaning that you may think of an idea in a fraction of a second but it takes much longer to convey that idea to someone else through speech. That is to say, subvocalizing dramatically slows down the rate at which you're reading so if you can put a stop to it, you'll notice improvements almost immediately.

Many find success with learning how to read faster when using their fingers as a guide. Put your finger on the page as you're reading and move it along each sentence as you read. Try to increase the speed at which your finger is moving and you'll invariably increase the speed at which your brain is processing information, too.

Finally, never forget that speed reading in general requires as much focus as possible. You're not going to be able to read quickly if you're also trying to have a conversation with someone else in the room, or if you have the TV on in the background. Devote yourself to the text in front of you and you will see yourself start to improve as far as speed is concerned.

Examples and Benefits of Speed Reading

As previously mentioned, one of the major benefits of speed reading is that it is far more efficient than reading something at a slow and leisurely pace. That's not to say that there isn't value in taking your time and soaking in every last syllable of a book you really love - it's just that if you want to get as much done as possible, speed reading is the way to do it.

Likewise, as you consume more and more written content, you're exposing yourself to a world of new and fascinating ideas that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. If you've ever wanted to read a massive tome like "War and Peace" (or anything written by Stephen King in the 1980s) but balked at the massive number of words and time requirement, speed reading is the way to save time and accomplish your goal in the most effective way possible.

The actual volume of books that you can read in a given year while speed reading will depend on a variety of factors. First, you need to consider your actual speed as 300 words per minute will yield different results than 750 words per minute. Then, you need to take into account the length of the books in question. If you stick to 200 page novels, you'll be able to read a lot more than if you're only focused on 1,100 word epics.

Finally, you have to consider both the amount of time you plan to spend each day reading and the number of days in a week you're devoting to the activity. All of this is to say that there is no "one right calculation" that will prove you can read X number of books per year at Y speed.

Having said that, if the average person can read about 40 pages per hour at 250 words per minute, it's possible to read 300 pages in just over eight hours with a speed of 300 words per minute. That means that at this speed, you can conceivably finish an average-sized book per day (depending on what else you have going on).

Contrast that with a reading speed of 450 words per minute and you can read 250 to 300 pages in about 4.6 hours.

In the end, all of this makes a solid case for learning how to speed read so that you can become the fast reader you've always wanted to be. Not only to you get more information far faster, but you're also more productive and more. That productivity increase alone is more than worth the effort for most people.

To find out more information about how to read faster, or to get additional insight into the benefits that reading fast brings with it, please don't delay - contact Speechify today.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.