You Can Hack Your Brain To Listen Faster.

Improving understanding in the modern world

Matt Inman
The Startup
Published in
4 min readMay 22, 2020

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Photo by Mihai Andoni from FreeImages

Full Disclosure, I’ve never been a fast reader. My comprehension suffers as my reading speed increases. Many of you may experience the same affliction, finding yourself flipping back pages, not having a clue what you just read.

In my quest to read faster and keep up my understanding, I investigated supplementing my print reading with audio programs. Whether it is a podcast or an audiobook, these formats seem to be a perfect balance of speed and learning.

Listening to programs is how many of us get our news and reading today. This change is due mostly to the hustle and bustle of today’s busy lifestyle. People listen on their commutes, others while doing chores around the house, or while exercising.

According to a Forbes article, audiobook sales alone have grown in double digits for the last seven years. With the most recent data showing sales at almost 1 Billion dollars in 2018.

These formats have become a supplement and, in some cases, a substitute for the written word. As a writer, this may sound counterproductive. Most writers will tell you that being a well-rounded print reader is vital to the writing process. I believe we can compromise and make room for both. I, for instance, tend to read more nonfiction and listen to more fiction.

What if you could listen faster?

A while back, a friend and I were discussing an audiobook we were reading. The book was enjoyable, but I commented that the narrator was a tad annoying. His next statement changed the way I listen to audiobooks.

“Oh, I just change the speed of the playback, and his voice becomes much better.”

Until that point, changing the playback speed of an audiobook had never occurred to me. When I tried it, I realized he was right. Not only was it more comfortable listening to the narrator, but it had the bonus of taking less time to finish the book.

Many of you may already do this with audio. This made me wonder, how fast can one actually listen to the spoken word and still comprehend the meaning. After a bit of research, I found out it’s much quicker than you would think.

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Matt Inman
The Startup

Writer, Tech, and Travel nerd. Connecting with amazing people to encourage you to take action in your life. Let’s talk — mattinman.com