Imagine you have to read a 100-page report in an hour, summarize the contents and submit the file to your manager.

Not only do you have to read it but also understand its intention, meaning and different elements. At this point, you’re hyperventilating, not knowing what to do. So, you decide to rely on speed reading.

Information overload is highly prevalent in today’s world. When you have a heap of information to get through in a limited time, you need to rely on speed reading.

Let’s explore how to improve reading speed with speed reading exercises and techniques.

  1. Speed Reading – Words Per Minute

  2. Factors That Affect Reading Speed

  3. How To Increase Reading Speed

Speed Reading – Words Per Minute

Each person has their own reading style that depends on how easily they’re able to grasp information without losing focus. Reading is all about understanding the words, making connections and retention.

Research suggests that the average reading speed varies from 250 wpm (words per minute) to 700 wpm. Whether you read slowly or quickly, your reading speed will lie somewhere in this range. A tip – a sound reading speed is 280-310 wpm.

Factors That Affect Reading Speed

From social media notifications to relentless construction noises, there’s no shortage of distractions in our lives. Especially now that we’ve moved to a work from home setup, we have family members trying to interact with us in the middle of work.

There are several factors that affect reading speed, including:

  1. External Distractions

These include the sounds of our phones going off every time someone tweets or posts something online. Whether it’s a friend texting you for some advice or getting distracted by a new picture uploaded by someone you admire. External distractions include outside noises, notifications and social interactions.

  1. Internal Distractions

These include a loss of concentration stemming from internal factors. Say you suddenly have a hankering for a snack while you’re trying to read an email or a brief. You’re already halfway to the kitchen before you realize that you left your workspace. Other internal factors include stress, daydreaming about traveling or even feeling unwell.

Overcoming these distractions for an effective reading time is possible only when you’re paying attention. Speed reading techniques can help you observe your reading patterns and figure out the best ways to minimize distractions.

How To Increase Reading Speed

You can rely on speed reading techniques like skimming and visualization to increase reading speed. But before you start, it’s important to be clear on the objective of why you have to read something. Sometimes, we’re so distracted we don’t even know why we’ve been staring at an email. You can read it four or five times but you still won’t understand what it’s about. So, let’s look at the three stages of reading that you can follow for complete comprehension.

  1. Pre-Reading

Pre-reading is where you predict and preview what the content is. Having an idea about what you might be reading will make it easier to place the words and understand their meaning. Pre-reading involves two other steps, prior knowledge and purpose, that also help you get a better understanding of the text. This is the step where you can skim over the text for an overview.

  1. Reading

Reading is the main act of going through the text line by line. Once you’re aware of the purpose of the text, you can start to associate the content with what it’s trying to convey. You can use strategies like visualization to understand the meaning of the word without hearing it. This is the fastest form of reading.

  1. Post-Reading

Post-reading comes after you’re done understanding the text. This can help you make notes, summarize critical points and make sense of the text. You’ll find it easier to retain information after speed reading if you’re careful about your post-reading process.

Reading doesn’t have to be so tedious, even if the topic is dry and dense. All you need to do is to find a quiet corner or play music in a language you don’t understand. Not losing your train of thought is critical when you’re speed reading. With practice, you’ll master the art of skimming and visually reading the text.

For more guidance on speed reading exercises, Harappa’s Reading Deeply course will teach you about the three stages of reading. You’ll learn about the different kinds of data that you may encounter to improve comprehension and deepen understanding. Make reading fun again and learn how to focus on the task at hand rather than getting distracted by the smallest things!


Explore topics such as the Importance of ReadingTypes of Reading, What is Intensive Reading & Extensive Reading from Harappa Diaries and enhance your reading skills.

Related articles

Discover more from Harappa with a selection of trending blogs on the latest topics in online learning and career transformation