Have you been in conversation and knew what the other person was going to say?
Have you watched a movie and knew how it would end?
Or how about seeing a relationship and knowing exactly how it was going to play out?
If you have had these experiences, you probably thought you had some special power or psychic ability.
I hate to burst your bubble, but it wasn’t a unique power or special ability.
It’s a feature built into every mind.
There is a part of the mind that is always predicting what is going to happen.
It’s an automatic process that is always on.
As you walk into a meeting, the mind is predicting what will be discussed.
While getting out of bed, the mind predicts how the day will go.
When delivering bad news, the mind will predict how it will be received.
This is a useful feature for couple reasons:
1. If the mind can predict a danger before it happens, you are more likely to survive it.
2. If it can predict an opportunity before others, you are likely to take advantage of it.
Based on all sorts of cues, the mind is constantly making predictions of situations, people, and events.
It does this when reading as well.
Often we are not reading what the text is saying, but what the mind predicts it is going to say.
Given word choice, grammar, topic, author, writing style, what you’ve read so far, and prior knowledge of the material or subject, the mind makes predictions about what’s to come.
This can pose a problem
If the mind makes wrong predictions, it can lead you misinterpret the information or not understand what you’ve read.
Often, when we don’t understand what we’ve just read, it’s for the simple reason that the mind predicted the text to say one thing, when in actuality, it said something different.
That’s why I tell students that one can never fully understand a piece of writing on a first pass. The first time through the mind is just getting its feet in the mud.
To improve reading comprehension and help the mind make more accurate predictions, make sure to:
Preview Material You Read
Previewing is the act of sifting through and examining written material before reading it.
Previewing gives the mind an overview of the material, so it has a general idea of what the text is about and the direction the information will go.
This accelerates our reading comprehension.
It’s a step that takes very little time, but has big benefits in not only reading comprehension, but also reading speed.
If you'd like to learn more about preview and how to apply it to your reading, a great resource is Speed Reading: Learn to Read a 200+ Page Book in 1 Hour.