7 Reading Tips. Part Two of Effective Communication Skills
Communication – A Skill of Two Halves
As discussed in Part One of this series of articles covering communication skills, communicating effectively is a skill of two halves. ‘Reception’, involves listening and reading, whilst ‘production’ concerns writing and speaking. In Part Two, we look at the skill of reading and provide some hints to improve your overall reading experience and information retention.
Reading is something that most of us do naturally whenever we encounter words written in a language we understand. In fact, we do it without thinking at all – it’s become second nature. This means that sometimes we are simply on auto-pilot, although consciously interpreting the words, we aren’t actively taking in the information those words are providing.
You may find you frequently have to read documents more than once to get a feel for the content. Perhaps, you often find yourself coming to the end of a page and realise you have no idea what it is you’ve just read! If you can relate to these frustrations, it’s time to brush up the quality of your reading skills and improve your reading focus.
Follow our 7 tips to improve the effectiveness of your reading skills.
1. Quiet Reading Time
Our busy brains are constantly processing all the information our senses gather from the world around us. Increase your focus on reading by turning off other sources of sound, images and distraction – such as your laptop, phone or TV.
2. Make Notes on the Text
Whenever possible, make your own notes on the text whilst you read (you may have to photocopy books and one-off documents!). This keeps you engaged and creates pathways in your brain to encourage retention and recall. Note down questions, words you’re unsure of, personal and current event connections, your opinions and paragraph summaries.
3. Read Out Loud
When we read ‘in our heads’ our brains tend to skip words or even entire sentences. Reading out loud means you have to speak every word which will help you get a better grasp of the content.
4. Be Read To
When you really need to understand a piece of writing, a great way to improve your focus and comprehension is to have someone else read it to you. Just remember to use your listening skills effectively!
5. Use a Dictionary
Be interested in the words you are reading, including the words you don’t understand. Don’t just skip over words you don’t recognise. Have a dictionary close to hand to look up any words you’re unsure of, or you can use an online dictionary like dictionary.com. Note down the meaning of the word. This is a great way to improve your vocabulary and comprehension.
6. Present Your Findings
Once you’ve read a document, put it to one side and either write or speak about your findings from it. If you’ve focussed on your reading, you should be able to recall immediately the major points and some of the finer details. If you find your mind goes blank, simply read again and increase your focus.
7. Read, Read and Read Some More
Like any other skill, your reading skills improve with practice. When is the last time you enjoyed a really good book? Make reading a leisure activity and choose texts you know you’ll enjoy. Not only is leisure reading relaxing, it’s also great for taking your reading skills to the next level and improving your reading focus.
By the way, if you are unhappy with the speed of your reading, that’s another matter entirely – and one that we can help you with. Take a look at our Speed Reading or Fast Reading and Super Memory courses.
Part Three of our Communication Skills articles will focus on improving your speaking skills.
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