Speed up your reading in just 1 minute
Hand pacing is an effective speed reading technique to instantly increase reading speed as well as improve comprehension. It’s an easy to learn method and involves using your index finger or a pointer to move along or below the lines while reading.
From my experience this method is the quickest way to have your reading performance improved. I have been practicing it for years and it helps keep my focus and quickly skim articles for an overview. This post explains the basics and how to apply self pacing successfully.
1. Intuitive learning
Do you remember your early days in school? Have you ever spotted anyone reading while moving his/her finger along the line of the page? What did you think then? What would you think today? Is it a type of reading disability?
Certainly not. Some people simply have a natural tendency to concentrate and to do so they unconsciously use pacing techniques. By doing so, they comprehend material much better and remember it well.
Ron Cole, the author of “How to be a super reader” for example says that hand pacing is as simple as moving your index finger or a pointer under the words you are reading. You can do it at your own speed and to pace yourself.
2. Hand pacing instructions
- Sit in a 45 degree angle. Sit comfortable. Put your elbow on your table.
- Use one hand to hold your material.
- Use a pointer or your left/right index finger.
- Position pointer under the first word. Start pacing yourself by moving along the lines.
- Your eyes concentrate on the pointer and the words.
- Keep moving the pointer while reading. Go to the next line once you are finished.
- Your index finger determines your reading speed and focus.
- Adjust speed according to your comprehension.
- Do not worry about missing a few words, just keep going.
- Your motion is continuous and free flowing.
- Slow down to handle more difficult reading material.
- Focus on your eyes and concentrate on the words coming into focus.
- Coax your brain to go faster and allow it to do the rest.
- Start again when realizing you stopped self pacing.
3. What are the benefits?
Cole’s graduates consider hand pacing as one of the top three speed reading techniques (previewing | word groups). Being one of his book graduates I can confirm: You can easily improve your skills by applying this method. It’s free and fast.
- improve your comprehension
- increase your reading speed
- guide your eye during reading
- improve retention
- improve concentration and reading flow
- reduce regression
- teach your mind to concentrate without distractions
- save time and energy
4. Why does it work?
It is a natural and human tendency to detect moving objects. Please consider this example: Imagine you are watching TV. There is a window right next to where you sit. Even though you are indulged in your favorite show you would spot a bird or person passing that window. It’s a natural behaviour and even our ancestors, the early humans, were required to detect movement of predators in order to survive. This inherent skill we can use for learning to read faster.
Whether you consider yourself a slow, fast or passive reader, a moving pointer will help force your eyes to follow and process the words appearing in the focus area. Allow your eyes to move smoothly to train eye coordination and change existing habits of bad eye movement.
5. How to master this technique?
Hand pacing is not just about moving a tool underneath a line. You certainly need to teach your eyes to follow your pointer as well. And, though it’s easy to learn, it may require some practice and patience.
There are also advanced pacing variants such as vertical, serpentine or zigzag style that can be perfectly used with previewing or word group techniques to really master your reading experience. One key to success is to make pacing a daily routine and to practice till you get better at it.
First try the pointer technique and give it a week to get familiar with. You can use it for books as well as for tablet PC reading. My tip: Don’t be shy to use this method in the library, public transport or in a park.
6. Advanced variations
Card – Use a card instead of a pointer or finger. The card works for some by helping you focus more and keeping your eyes on the reading material.
Zig Zag – This method involves you to move your pointer or finger diagonally about three lines and then going back. It’s like scanning a larger area, it is an advance technique and I would not recommend you using it in the beginning.
The hop – In this technique you hop with four of your fingers concentrating on 4 words at a time, again it is better to use this technique after mastering the basic technique.
The Sweep – Imagine that you are dusting sugar off your page, use a cupped hand while keeping your fingers together and sweep from left to right
7. Your Assignment
- Choose your reading material. Any book or magazine will do.
- Start practicing, use hand pacing technique slowly for the first page.
- Apply it for at least seven days before using any other technique.
- You can use the mouse pointer when reading online.
- Try to go as fast as you can to get the hang of it.
- Try it in public and resist the feeling of being watched. Try to concentrate and do not be pressured.