This short (<5 minutes) video will teach you how to triple your reading speed in less than 20 minutes. It works nearly immediately, and there is zero loss in comprehension.
No voodoo, no pseudoscience — just two tricks for optimizing eye movement.
Some of you learn better with text, and some of you learn better with video. As one commenter who watched the above video put it:
“Tim, thanks so much for this video. I read your blog post about this like four times without being able to get it. With a video, it’s much easier.”
Have fun, and I’d love to hear your results in the comments.
If you enjoy this, you might also like my posts on rapid language learning, or my interview with champion memory competitor, Ed Cooke. You can stream the latter below:
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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72 Replies to “Learn How to Triple Your Reading Speed in 5 Minutes (Seriously) [VIDEO]”
Holy crap! Why don’t we learn this in school? I might have actually read my assignments if that were the case… Although, it seems like the column layout of textbooks is not conducive to this technique. Perhaps with columns we could just focus in the middle of each line, but I’m not sure how this compares with the peripheral benefits of the zig zag pattern.
Will be sharing this with some of my high school English students. Certainly something I wish I knew before entering college. Thanks!
Try the spritz app (or the readme! app on the iphone)…way less work than learning how to speed read
That Spritz app is amazing! Thanks!!
Spritz app is great, but it doesn’t travel with you for all things. Just like relying on a meditation app for meditation. I like to have my toolkit in my head whenever possible, which is the most flexible and expedient.
true..but you can’t read everything you want on your iPhone!
Great call. I’ve been on the beta for Spritz for years, and LOVE it. BUT, only for websites, and even then, only for text heavy websites. They’ve evolved for PDFs as well now (speedread.io and readsy.com).
But I read a lot of books. On paper and on Kindle. And it doesn’t work for those. But speedreading does.
Horses for courses, as we say in the UK.
I use this technique for reading non-fiction but does anyone find that they prefer to slow down for meandering through a story?
Also, for reading on the computer, this technique becomes easier if you can resize the window to make the paragraphs narrower. The Clearly Chome extension from Evernote can make this easier:
Speed reading is the tool. You can slow down when you need it.
Thank again time, I had used the methods you taught from reading them in your written text but seeing it on the short vid – wow another 20% increase in my first try. You are so awesome, you should adopt a puppy!
I’ve tried the technique as described, and have trouble with retention. :/ any tips?
Thanks for the great content!
For retention (not just comprehension), it’s critical to test your “before” capabilities!
Most people have never tested their normal retention. Have someone read a magazine article in the Economist and quiz them on details. Most will fail miserably.
We assume that our slower/”before” retention is much better than it actually is, so just ensure you’re comparing real “before” data with real “after” data.
In my case, if you really want to remember or memorize something, here’s how I do it:
– Triple reading speed
– Read the material 2x instead of 1x
– You’ve still done it in 2/3 the time it would have taken you, and your recall will probably be 2x as good.
I find that speed reading forces me to summarize the key points while I’m reading. It also prevents me from drifting off in a stream of words and having to go back half a page when I come back to reality. Speed reading signals an increased intention to take the material seriously which makes my brain more alert and willing to retain things.
Awesome! I always read the 300%/20min post each January and see results…then stop practicing. This is a great reminder (and shorter too…since speed is the need)
Okay, so I just did this. Its funny because I had bought a bunch of books to read over my summer break and was thinking that I needed to learn how to read faster because it was taking me forever to get through a book. Funny how things work out.
Anyway, here are my stats:
Book: Money by Tony Robbins
Pretest: 203.2 wpm
w/ Pacer: 266.7 wpm
w/ Pacer + 1 word(ish) margin: 342.9 wpm
after practicing 900wpm with pacer and margin: 520.7 wpm
The lines that contained less than a full line I didn’t count unless it was almost a full line.
All in all, I would say this was pretty successful.
Does the hyper-clocking with 900 wpm serve as a “primer”? or does it only help because it is a quick way to look over text before actually trying to process the info in that text?
Tried it before and it works. But my problem is that when I try to use a pencil my shoulder hurts after couple of minutes of enhanced reading. Any tips for that?
No tips – Just backing you up here! I agree. I can’t find a comfortable position to do this without my shoulder cramping, and I can’t use my left (non-dominant) hand to do it without getting distracted. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
Hi, I just started reading 4 Hour Body after hearing a podcast about it. In two weeks I have lost 9 pounds so far by cutting out everything you said to and stopped drinking energy drinks. No more joint pain. Less chest pain (hoping that will self regulate). About the part of the guy eating the bag of oreos and twizzlers on the plane and you not understanding how. Without going into detail I just wanted to suggest you might sit in on a few 12 step meetings for over eaters. That is if you wanted to understand it more. I am very thankful for your inspiration. Hope to meet you someday.
Hi Tim, great video. I’ve just picked up Tony Buzan The Speed Reading Book a BBC Book publication. First published in 1971. Are you aware of this book and if so how do you rate it. I’ve yet to start it. It is on my To Do list.
Thanks for the tips.
I remember Tony Buzan! He also had a TV series on memory and how to improve it by association (similar to the why memrise works).
I’m still struggling to increase speed, and can’t fathom reading much faster. Do I still say each of the words in my head?
Nope. Subvocalisation (saying the words to yourself) is something that slows you down a lot when reading. The good news is that you can learn to outpace it. Reading faster than you can comprehend (trick #3) will help a lot, the rest seems to be down to practice.
Given how many books I read a month, this is going to help a ton. I’ve read a few articles on “speed reading” before, but this one instantly clicked with me.
Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed testing this out. I just increased my reading speed by 86% – not bad! However, I’m not quite convinced that my comprehension of what I read was all that good. Perhaps this comes with more practice?
Apologies, just saw the similar comment and reply above 🙂
I’ve been trying some of this the past few days after some mentions on an old podcast I was listening to. Great timing on the follow up. I’ve also been doing some other research and I keep seeing this idea of getting rid of subvocalization and that reading in your head is what kills your reading speed. I find if my mind isn’t saying the words I can’t process what I’m reading at all.
When you are speeding up your reading are you still reading all the words and are you hearing yourself in your head, or does the information simply travel from your eyes to your memory somehow?
My retention reading in my old normal way is very good 80+% when I test, but I’m going at 150wpm, which is horrible and makes me really dislike reading… it just takes so long. I don’t want that retention to drop to 20% in the process of speeding up, which is where it feels like I’m headed as I try to stop my brain from saying words in my head.
Is the idea of removing subvocalization something to strive for, and if so, are there any good techniques to get rid of it while still maintaining good understanding and retention of the material? Google keeps leading me to the same sources, that talk about the problems, but never the solutions.
Thanks, Tim. Those techniques sound great!
I will definitely try them, as I am a very slow reader, who is also a perfectionist…..this results in a very slow reading pace for me.
Because I’m an author and tend to take my writing very seriously, every email I write turns into a nightmare of endless rewriting & reviewing; together with my slow reading, this takes a lot of my time. I expect great results from your techniques. Thanks, & I’ll love to see more videos….
Great tip ,, Tim i am going to apply this Technique Today as i am reading a lot ,,,Thanks Mate
Another great video Tim! As far as apps to help ‘Acceleread’ is by far the best. Has exercises that actually translates to reading from a real book. I often warm up with this and then go on to read my normal book – hope this helps!
Awesome tip thank you. I did a speed reading couse way back but this adds to it.
Thanks for this. You are recommending drawing lines on the pages. Is that literal? What if I read on a kindle?
Thanks Tim! Will try it out and let you know how I go. I want to read 4 books a week like you do
Oh great ! This video deserves many shares
Tim, I just got your 4-hr workweek book, and of course it features your 3-hr speed-reading seminar in Princeton story somewhere in the first pages, fun ‘coincidence’ 🙂
I suspect you may know by now, but if not, I came to tell you that you are a classical Scanner! It is amazing to read your life story of bouncing between subjects after reading Barbara Sher’s “Refuse to choose!” about scanners. I am one too, but not as fast of a kind. If I now ever have to explain to anyone what a Scanner is I will use you as an example 🙂
Enjoy your learning and hopping 🙂
I suffered a TBI in a car accident last summer which dropped my reading speed to about a 1st grade level. After 6 months of vision therapy, I am now at a 6th grade speed (as well as significantly decreasing my glasses prescription and strengthening my focusing flexibility). Excited to try this out and get back to reading more. While audiobooks are wonderful, reading is better.
I second that ie Renee comment : I do not read as much I really would like till a few months ago my friend gave me a kobo and I devoured 8 books in 190 hours but would like to read faster to catch up on all the books I have missed out on (also to reread your book) should Renee and I do what you mentioned with traditional paper book first then see the affects .. I ask because on a kobo I don’t have margins , I make the font bigger which shift one page I think into aprox. 2 (guessing) I have not testing myself before but I definately can tell I am reading majorly faster than before because I enjoy the kobo ereader. You feel this technique will still approve me?? Could I teach my 10year old this? You are the first to explain the eye jumping around thing which is very very obvious in her!
Awesome tips (as always). But any advice for achieving similar outcome using an e-reader? Hard to use a tracker and impossible(ish) to draw lines in the margins.
Answered my own question. Two thin rubber bands!!
Thanks for the video presentation of this! Good to have multi-format refreshers.
I had actually learned most of this in a much longer old-school audio tape set (no idea the name) but had let it lapse until being reminded to revive it and improve by your articles and now this video.
Maybe you already have seen this and didn’t mention for time/practicality purposes, but I saw you make a big ? sign with your hand (likely subconsciously) while talking. For a few blessed weeks I was serious enough to get to the level of literally drawing a big, quick question mark with my pacing finger and that was it! No wiggling back and forth.
Page read and understood in under 2 seconds!
THE LIMITER THEN WAS HOW FAST I COULD TURN THE PAGE!
Wondering if any of you have gotten to that stage?
And have you ever had eye soreness from it? I teach a focus drill for football receivers that often results in residual eye muscle soreness similar to the residual “good soreness” after lifting weights.
Would also like to hear your side of the debate about what kinds of reading this is best for. My theologian friends argued that it isn’t a good idea for thick technical or philosophy-style reading, but I found just the opposite to be true, allowing me to see the broader picture very quickly. Could always go back and more thoroughly digest individual pages if needed.
I go on book binges now (currently not reading much since like to take your advice at end of 4HWW), and as with any physical training, it comes back pretty quickly, altho seldom to the ? level.
Thanks again for the video!
One of the most important courses i took as a teen was a speed reading one that actually taught me this, Tony Buzan’s book covers this very well, and something that just recently got me to a book a day (i don’t do it every day though, and not every book) is being very aware of how one is processing the info that we are consuming.
Thanks for this Tim! I love books and i buy loads of them. But the sad thing is i can never get through to them cover to end. I am someone who would be very excited to read the first 4-5 chapters but after that my ‘fear’ would kick in. When I look at the sheer volume of all the unread pages i still need to go through, it just feels overwhelming that I start to think that I can never finish the book (and in many cases i don’t).
Which is why i moved to Audible and love listening to books as they are easy to get through to the end and i get a sense of accomplishment.
I have started to use your speed reading technique and I can safely say that this has improved my reading speed dramatically.
But how do you apply this to a magazine/newspaper article, where the columns are pretty narrow by itself? And there are multiple columns next to each other.
Thanks so much Tim for the post. Any experience/tips on optimal settings for doing this on an ereader like the Kindle? I have a fairly large font size set to reduce eye strain. Is having a larger font an advantage or disadvantage for speed reading? On the one hand there’s obviously less words per “page” so you have to tap more, but on the other hand, bigger letter seems to make it easier to process the words, especially when using peripheral vision.
Thank you very much for this video and for sharing your knowledge.
I read much faster in French (my first language) than in English (my second language). I can get away with some speed reading in French without losing too much comprehension, but it is unpleasant, stressful, and exhausting. Does that get better with practice, or does speed reading always feel like a job?
Also, are you ever able to speed read in a second language? Or do you have any technique to improve reading speed in a second language (just reading as fast as a native speaker would be great for me)? Whenever I try to speed things up in English, my comprehension is just destroyed. I might as well just look at the pretty pictures.
I’m having trouble applying the method.
I’ve been trying it for a little over 2 weeks now ( techniques in this blogpost: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2009/07/30/speed-reading-and-accelerated-learning/ ) I started out at 220 wpm, and now I can read at 350 wpm. But when I try to speed up significantly, I loose comprehension. I can read at 700 wpm, maybe even 800 wpm. But my comprehension level is about 20% of the text.
Did anyone encounter a similair problem?
Great Stuff Tim. Can you please provide a download so that your audience can listen to it on the move,,
Is there any way of getting (I WANT to pay for) the Tim Ferriss TV episodes without going through ITunes? My hatred for Apple overwhelms my desire to watch these episodes… and I REALLY would like to watch all of them.
I keep falling short on my total reading goal each year. When I found this video, I had literally just put down a book that I want to speed read through. I watched the video, picked up my book and kaboom. Thanks for changing the game for this bookworm!
Hello Tim Ferriss, I am Rio Grande do Sul attorney, Brazil, I have 28 years and like most people always have many commitments, until the day in a bookstore I found his book Work 4 hours per week, it struck me as I am used to reading motivational books, but none really tells how to apply and this book is different, as reported cases and you just fit in your profession and you just want to. I believe that always looked for innovations and improvements without relying on manual labor 24 hours a day, but for a purpose, and his book has shown me that I was right, I have recently applied some of his teachings come and getting better results, I could not even take little vacation or retirement, but soon I will. I leave my story because people like you to convey your teaching, they deserve to be recognized worldwide. Reader hugs Dr. Diego Idalino Ribeiro.
Olá Tim Ferriss, sou advogado do Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil, tenho 28 anos e como a maioria das pessoas tenho sempre muitos compromissos, até o dia em que numa livraria encontrei seu livro Trabalhe 4 horas por semana, ele me chamou atenção pois estou acostumado a ler livros motivadores, mas nenhum fala realmente como aplicar e este livro é diferente, pois relata casos e basta você adaptar-se na sua profissão e basta você querer. Acredito que sempre busquei inovações e melhoramentos sem depender do trabalho braçal 24 horas por dia, mas sim por um propósito, e seu livro me mostrou que eu estava certo, recentemente tenho aplicado alguns de seus ensinamentos e venho obtendo melhores resultados, ainda não consegui tirar pequenas férias ou aposentadorias, mas em breve terei. Deixo o meu relato pois pessoas como você que transmitem o seu ensinamento, merecem ser reconhecida mundialmente. Abraços do leitor Dr. Diego Idalino Ribeiro.
tim ferriss you are a fucking legend
Amazing! haha I a m going to start using that tecnique for faster reading! Thanks (:
Thanks for this video!
Do you have any ideas on how to implement this for online reading?
I already tried it when I read it I on your blog and bought a book on speed reading. It works great with books, but as most of my reading is actually from websites, it gets more difficult there. Using a pacer on a computer screen is possible but very uncomfortable and many websites do have terrible layouts with lines that are miles long, and have terrible typography, (with really bad fonts in size 5). It just makes efficient reading a lot more difficult…
I’ve literally read the June 30th 2009 post 100+ times and have implemented some of those techniques on a daily basis!
Thanks for the video and thanks for making timeless pieces!
I had some trouble putting this speed reading algorithm together, so I did it this following way with an example. Maybe this example will help some people and make it easier to follow this algorithm. If this following example helps you out just a bit please leave a reply on this comment and let us know.
1) AVG #Words per line= 10 lines count total number of words divide by 10
2) Average lines per page
5 -10 pages divide by page number is average line per page: usually between 30-40 lines.
3) avg# words per page= avg#words per line * avg lines per page
4) use stop watch read for one minute before this exercise, count number of pages.
5) word per minute = multiply word per page times the pages you read in one minute
lets say in average there there are 10 words per line., and 30 lines per page.
then average word per page is: 10 * 30 =300 words per page
If you read the page in one minute then your speed is 300 wpm
If you read half a page in one minute then it is 150 word per minute
If you read 3/4 of the page in one minute then your speed is 225 word per minute
Very useful Tim, thanks!
I love this Tim, went from 1 page to 3 in shorter than it took me to watch and count the words to get a baseline. The lines drawn on each side of the page help, I was previously trying to do it by counting/ reading 2-3 words from each side instead of using 2-3 words as a distance out from the edge of the margins. Yay ! Now can read my 3 book club books per month (for fun) plus read more if I like 😀
Perhaps this doesn’t work well for slow readers. Starting WPM: 252 (I know, it’s sad). Adding a tracer under the words as I read produced exactly zero % increase, while DECREASING comprehension. Been practicing the combined tracer and peripheral vision technique for 30 minutes now, and received a wopping 30% increase to 321 WPM, but again comprehension is sketchy. Perhaps my peripheral vision is poor, I can’t seem to move in from the margins more than 1 word. I guess I’ll keep practicing, but man is this frustrating. I feel like a complete moron.
This is a fascinating article and I am working on this myself. I have read the book once and I am going through it again. I have a muse idea that I want to develop but I have a question. And I was hoping that someone could either help me with an answer or point me in the right direction.
One of the idea categories that Tim talks about is a training or other kind of video because it is easier to produce and harder to copy quickly. And low cost to entry.
However it seems that videos are not so hot anymore. Most ideas are posted on youtube making them free. Not a good way to produce income. And also most videos that are for sale now are usually distributed electronically. Is that the trend now? Is that how most people are doing it? Would this make it harder to market when most people want their video content instantly online like youtube?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
The buffering on the Vessel site is really frustrating. Just an FYI. I left it after the fifth or sixth interruption.
A practical explanation of how to do this. Thanks Tim!
Thanks, Tim! What do you recommend for further study of speed reading beyond your wonderful article?
I was curious if you prefer E-Readers like a Kindle or tangible books?
And then which one you actually use to read (e-reader or book)?
That was cool. A pity i already knew about the eye movements, but the pacer is rather helpful. 285wpm=>400wpm, so that’s nice.
I’m thinking maybe a clear plastic sheet/bookmark with 1-1 1/2″ lines, place first line 1/2″ into text. Foldable, can stick to back of phone too.
quick question: PhotoReading – fake or real?
Have you tried it?
Tim, Thanks for all the generous posts, podcasts, books, videos, experiments … On this one, I’ve also read that using your left hand to trace activates your right brain hemisphere and that you can also listen to something like audible at double speed while reading. This brings 3 sensory inputs into reading (sight, tactile and hearing) and the combo is supposed to improve comprehension. I’ve yet to try all of these out in addition to this post’s tips, but if you (or readers) do and have success, let us know.
Thank you for this super helpful post. I do most of my reading on a kindle or iPad and am wondering how this technique transfers to such a device.
Please, I would like to know if you ever felt lazy/not interested/disliked a book but was still interested in the topics of the book, which led you to read a short version of it through sparknotes or wikipedia.
If you hate doing this, what is a remedy?
Thank you in advance
189% increase in 5 minutes, going to chip away at this and try for 300%. Nice advice Tim, will be passing this on to my staff and family.
Hi Tim, are you able to translate this method easily when you change the reading channel from text book to kindle or laptop or tablet?
I wonder how the method can be adapted to fit with the needs of sight-impaired people? We require lots of text magnification to be able to read on the PC and often struggle with fine print in paper.
Does anybody have any experience with this? I personally have already heard of lots of authors proposing lots of productivity-wise tools, but none of them seemed to address the particular needs of people with disabilities. Due to our conditions, we may perceive the world in a (slightly) different way, so not everything that works for able-bodied also works for us, although both groups share the same need for being successful and maintaining a career.
I’m a little confused as to how you’re supposed to do this at double your target reading speed. So if your target is 900 wpm, you have to do it at 1,800 wpm, but wouldn’t that require you to move your pacer INSANELY fast? Help.