You know how blog post comments make you think…
Her comment got me started wondering how many words per minute the average person reads. How do they decide that it will take 3 minutes to read an article?
Of course I had to go see what I could learn.
It turns out that the average business person reads 200 to 250 words per minute.
That led me to wonder how fast people speak, and I found the reason why I don’t have the patience to listen to video or audio presentations.
- A professional speaker uses 110 to 150 words per minute.
- I did an online reading test and found that I read at 285 words per minute.
When you combine those two facts with the fact that most on line speakers spend far too much time repeating themselves and telling you why you should be listening to them, and the fact that I tend to skim, it’s no wonder I’m listening and thinking “Get on with it!” I’m much happier and more likely to get to the end of the message when there’s a text option.
I also learned that people skim at three to four times their normal reading speed.
It’s true that reading comprehension drops when we skim, but unless we’re reading something we need to learn, so what? When we skim, we can stop and slow down on those points that grab our interest. Meanwhile, we can avoid spending time on fluff and filler.
More interesting tidbits from my morning’s research:
We process 125–250 words per minute as they are being communicated to us. But when we think, we form thoughts at 1000–3000 words per minute. No wonder we don’t hear all that is said to us – we’re too busy thinking at warp speed!
More shocking to me: The average American college graduate only reads 5 books in his/her post-college lifetime.
I read about 5 books per week. (I know, that’s excessive, but I seldom look at the TV and I keep a book handy to read any time that I’m stuck waiting.)
Meanwhile, publishers are churning out 500 000 new titles each year in the English language alone.
What I didn’t find (darn it all!) was how people’s reading speed differed between reading dense “wall of words” text compared to reading text that is broken up with paragraph breaks, headers, and bullet points.
I’d be willing to bet there’s a difference.