Several years back I was traveling in the country of Belize. There I met a woman who was also traveling there.
I bring her up not because she was exceptionally smart or mentally gifted (though she might have been). I bring her up because she had a particular habit.
Anytime she got into a new city or town, the first thing she did was take a few hours to walk around and explore the town. She had to do that otherwise she would get anxious and restless.
We ended up traveling together, so whenever we arrived in a new town, we dropped our bags at the hotel and explored the town or neighborhood.
It was an interesting experience.
Doing that not only made me feel like I had done something, but it gave me a good preview of the town. I got a better understanding of what to do, where to go, how to get there, and more importantly, what the locals were like.
Since then, I’ve made her habit my own.
Anytime I travel to a new place, the first thing I do is take out time to walk around and explore for a few hours. This really sets my expectations of what there is to do and how much time I need or want to spend in that place.
This is how I want YOU to approach reading.
I want you to preview material before you actually read it.
That means scroll through the text, looking at the table of contents, major headings, words in bold or italics, visual aids, etc.
It’s the most important thing you can do to improve your reading speed and comprehension.
That’s because when you preview, you give your mind a framework of what will be discussed, the type of information that will be presented, and how it will be organized.
It may not seem like it to you, but to your mind, it’s tremendous.
It’s like looking at the box cover of a jigsaw puzzle. If you start a jigsaw without the cover, you will have a hard time putting it together. With the cover, it’s easier to see where all the pieces go and how they fit.
The same goes with preview.
It makes it easier for your mind to see the pieces and how they are organized.
Skilled readers almost never read a text “cold.” Instead, they first examine the text with preview.
This allows them to start the reading with a great deal of information already processed. As a result, their mind is not guessing or worrying about what’s coming next. It can relax and pay attention to what is being read.
So, whether you’re about to read an article, report, manual, book, novel, or chapter from a text, glance over and preview it before you actually start reading.
A good standard to follow when previewing is to look at the table of contents; chapter titles and headings; words in bold, underline, quotes, or italics; visual aids such as tables, charts, graphs, and diagrams; end of chapter summaries or questions; and anything important that catches your eye.
Also, it helps to read the first and last paragraphs of an article or the first and last paragraph of each chapter in a book.
To remember all this, think of T.H.I.E.V.E.S:
• Every word in bold, underline, quote, and italics
• Visuals Aids
• End of Chapter Questions
So, the next time you start a reading assignment, preview it first. You’ll find you not only understand the information better, but you can read it faster as well.