Lightning Reading aka Speed Reading | What exactly is this and why should it be of interest to anyone!
Is this for you?
Are you a person who
- Is always stuck for time before an examination – having lots to read and study but not having had the time
- Always fails to read important documents before attending meetings
- Feels that the study material should have been revised at least a few times more
- Falls asleep whenever you open a book
- Experiences your mind wandering all over the place
- Wants to read more, much more, but doesn’t have the time. You always go to book sales and buys many books which remain in pristine condition because of no time to read.
- Easily gets distracted and finds it difficult to focus while reading
- And finally wishes that you had more time to read because you know it is important for your education and career development!
If you can relate to at least one, two or even all of the above descriptions, Lightning Reading is for you. It increases both speed and focus while reading and allows you to read more!
Can this be done?
Lightning Reading is not a fad, not magic, not impossible – and actually quite easy to learn. In my estimation, it is easier than riding a bicycle.
So how does this work?
Well it is surprisingly straightforward. We teach you a bunch of ‘skills’ (skills being something you ‘do’ rather than ‘think’ about). Like when you go to the pool to learn to swim – the coach may tell you to hold on to the wall – stretch out – and kick. If we start to think about the why – we may not end up actually swimming. But the person who gets on with it – rather in the way of ‘Nike’ (Just Do It) – finds that he / she can swim surprisingly quickly. The same principle is followed here where you essentially train your mind to eliminate distractions and increase your focus while reading.
It’s not magic!
These skills are so effective that we have noticed students engaging in the skill being totally oblivious to stuff happening around them – because their focus has been increased to such an amazing level. So it isn’t magic or impossible – Just Do It – and you find your focus increasing and distractions being eliminated.
What has speed got to do with it?
Well, when you are more focused and have eliminated distractions while reading do you feel like you would be able to read faster?
The answer for most people is a resounding ‘Yes’.
So Speed is actually a by-product of increased focus. Of course, one thing leads to another – because you are more focused – you can now read faster. At the same time, because you are reading faster – you are even more focused – and so the cycle continues. And in this case a really beneficial cycle.
But if I read faster I may not understand as much as I normally do?
This is a common myth. On the contrary, reading faster using these techniques do not decrease understanding – as the focus of the person reading is much more than usual. Let’s take a common example – are we more focused when driving on the highway at 100kmph or driving on a normal road at 40kmph? Of course when we drive at 100kmph. Because if we are not – then a small lapse in focus could prove to be deadly.
However – Lightning Reading doesn’t advocate blindly increasing reading speed and hoping for the best. We take it a step at a time. Increasing the focus – then increasing the speed – always ensuring that we still understand what is being read.
Actually what happens – is that although we think we understand more when reading at our normal snail’s pace, because we are so distracted we end up understanding and retaining a very small amount.
To state it once again, Lightning Reading truly does increase both speed and focus while reading.
I am already a fast reader – so would I benefit?
Our experience has been that whatever speed you currently read at and how good or bad a reader you think you are – you can be taught to be even better. Of course, provided that 1) you want to, 2) you are willing to practice, 3) you believe it may be possible
I have heard negative things about Lightning Reading and Speed Reading
Of course, there are people who will speak negative things about anything!
In my experience, those who say negative things about Lightning Reading fall into several categories:
- Those who couldn’t improve as much as they wanted to: People in this category are very few. Most of the participants exceeded their expectations many times over.
- Those who did well at the program and really improved their reading productivity – but who didn’t practice afterwards. As this is a skill-based program – the more you practice the better you become. That has been the success story of those who stuck with it like Bradley (in our next story below). Others although they improved significantly at the program itself – didn’t practice for some time. When they got around to it again, they found that they were not reading at the high speeds that they had established earlier. Rather than practising and slowly getting back to their optimum speeds an easier way out seems to have been to say – the skills don’t work! Sad but true.
- Those who felt it could be used for leisure reading but not anything serious: Unfortunately many people fall into this category. However, we have now addressed this by asking people to bring their work and study materials to the program. We also encourage participants to bring laptops to improve reading on digital platforms!
Some interesting stories
Success at work
One of our students who also happened to be the Regional Director of CIMA at the time – Bradley Emerson has related this story to me many times. He had been at a seminar in the UK where the conference proceedings (report) had been given to the participants. Bradley using his Lightning Reading skills had very quickly read the report given to him while the presentation was going on. He had then pointed out some discrepancies between the report and what was being shown on the slide to the presenter. Bradley learned the skill more than 5 years ago and still practices it. He tells that he frequently amazes people sitting next to him on airplanes by reading magazines at unbelievable speeds.
Success during exams
Another one of our students sitting for her ACCA finals had also benefited from this skill. She had suddenly realized that the syllabus for the IT subject had not been completed. This meant that she had to self-study a whole textbook in just a couple of days. Putting her Lightning Reading skills to the test – she had finished her book before the exam. According to her this has resulted in her getting an A for this subject. She claims the subject to be one of her weakest before Lightning Reading.
An A-Level student who participated – was able to finish her Literature revising at record speeds. She also remembered much more than usual. In addition, she was able to revise the entire syllabus 4 times before the exam. This was a drastic improvement from her usual one-time revision process. This lead to an amazing result of her getting an A.
On a personal note – both my sons used Lightning Reading to revise before their O Levels. They were both playing basketball for their school till the middle of November. Therefore, the chances of them getting through their syllabus’ without the help of this skill was slim. My eldest ended up with 7A’s and 2B’s. We are now eagerly awaiting the results of my younger son as he sat the exam last year.
There are so many success stories and testimonials from students who have participated in these programs. Maybe now it’s time for your story!
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Check out my previous article on “Switching on happiness“.
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