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5 Ways to Become a Better Reader

5 Ways to Become a Better Reader

Language and literacy are among mankind’s greatest inventions. Evolving and even dying over the course of human history, languages are a reflection of our cultural and societal attitudes. Today, surrounded by social media, television, movies, billboards, and, of course, books, the ability to read and write is crucial to forming an identity and expressing one’s feelings. Most humans acquire language in early childhood and speak fluently when they are about three years old, but our continued relationship with language gives shape and meaning to our lives. Here are 5 ways to become a better reader.

Take it slow.

Many readers feel that they read too slowly, especially compared with others, but the truth is that the faster you read, the less likely you are to comprehend fully what you’re reading. The best readers are flexible—slowing down when needed, especially if weighty concepts or unknown words are grouped closely together—and always have a dictionary at hand. If you get to the end of a paragraph and realize you haven’t absorbed any of the information, do not hesitate to re-read the passage. Reading is a lifelong process: learning to read closely and slowly will help you become faster over time without missing anything.

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Read aloud.

When humans first began reading written words, it was unusual to read in silence. Though generally inappropriate for commuters or for late-night adventurers, reading out loud is one of the best ways to improve your reading ability. You may feel silly reading to your cat (or to no one at all), but once you get into the rhythm of the author’s voice, you will begin to read more accurately and with better vocal expression. Try listening to the author reading their own work—you’ll be surprised to find how clearly it comes through on the page.

Feel it.

Can you remember the first piece of writing that transported you to another world? One of the most powerful moments in a young, fluent reader’s life is learning to enter into the lives of imagined heroes and heroines. Subtleties of language and perspective become potent clues to deeper underlying meanings, and are easy to miss for even the most seasoned readers. As you read, let the language inform your pace, give pause to important gestures and dialogue, and allow striking ideas to simmer. In no time, you’ll be appreciating novels like fine wine.

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Write.

Writing and reading go hand-in-hand: how and what you read affects how and what you write, and the best readers often make the best writers. But while much can be learned from close, repeated readings, there are many secretive pleasures to language that can only be experienced through the practice of writing. This is why certain authors are labeled “writer’s writers”; another level of meaning and intense appreciation exists for those who create rather than simply observe. Try writing every day for a month; you will never read the same again.

Tell your friends.

All of literature is essentially communication from an individual’s inner voice to an audience. Though Franz Kafka’s dying wish was that all of his works—written in obscurity, often late at night, and mostly unpublished—be burned, aren’t we glad his friend, Max Brod, didn’t listen? There is something magical about sharing books with friends or a book club. It’s a good way to see the world from someone else’s eyes and, in the process, critically examine your own reaction to what you’re reading.

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Do you have any other helpful tips for becoming a good reader? Please leave a comment in the box below!

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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