Speed reading is a skill that most people take for granted. While it is taught in schools, it does not get much attention in research studies beyond media preference studies, which look closely at how a consumer takes in a newspaper or piece of communication like a website, which has a strong visual component. How does the eye move and at what speed? Still, as most schools already know, speed reading can improve one's reading skills and help someone to become more fluent with visual language, advertisement, both print and multi-media, and moving video. Here are a few myths to set straight.
Myth 1: Speed reading will allow for full comprehension. Studies do indicate that speed reading does not give access to information at an in-depth level; however, speed reading does give access to the key message, points, and purpose and audience of the communication. Consumers can quickly access the overall agenda of the communication: What is the piece of writing's key point or message? Why does this communication exist and how does it serve an agenda: what does the advertiser want from me? In this way, speed reading helps to give people a kind of pull--or anchor--for meaning. Speed reading allows for consumers to create a kind of scaffold for meaning.
Myth 2: Speed reading is easier than regular reading. To the contrary, speed reading actually takes practice and skill. Reading the introduction, title, and final paragraph really helps for those who wish to quickly ascertain the purpose of the piece of writing or advertisement. The title, first sentence and final sentence work together, usually, to communicate a main message. Speed reading takes time, effort, practice, and continual use to help the ordinary person to navigate today's world, which is filled with text--not only print or television but also internet or cyber-based.
Myth 3: Speed reading is something that can replace regular reading. Regular reading takes more time and effort because the consumer needs to have the process accumulate meaning as the meaning of the sentences add up, like snow. Unlike snow, the information is not layered in a simplistic lateral way but rather tends to inform meaning in a more three-dimensional way, with ties to associations being something that the brain may process and store on the subliminal level. Regular reading processes differ from person to person; some tend to take notes or use a highlighter pen. Others might annotate the text in order to have notes in the margin. Whatever the process, it is more individualized and is a different process than speed reading, which is a great habit to get into. Scanning text saves time, keeps the mind sharp, and keeps the ordinary person thinking critically, all really vital to being successful, productive, and actualized as individuals in today's contemporary society.