Newsletter: December 1996

by Patrick Magee, author of Brain Dancing

"When [Kepler] found that his long cherished beliefs did not agree with the most precise observations, he accepted the uncomfortable facts. He preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions. That, is the heart of science." --Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Summary of this issue:

  1. Optimizing Internet Processes
  2. Increase Your Reading Speed by Quieting Subvocalization
  3. Public Speaking Tips
  4. Cool Products: Glide Floss, Wizard Ware, and Deja News Author Profile
  5. Humor-Some of my favorite clean jokes.
  6. Cool Self-development Articles

Optimizing Internet Processes  
Setting up an a personalized Internet on-ramp has helped me use the Internet more effectively:

I store this file on my PC, and then make it my homepage (the file that is loaded when I start my browser or click on the "Home" button.) With Netscape, you specify your homepage using the "Appearance" tab from the dialog that appears when you select the "Options / General Preferences" menu options. Using IE, select the "Navigation" tab from the dialog that appears when you select the "View Options" menu options.

This on-ramp resulted from the application of the following principles discussed in Chapter 6 of Brain Dancing:

  1. Any time you do something repetitively, it is worthwhile to occasionally review the processes used for possible refinement.
  2. As the number of choices expand, there is an increasing need for structure, for habits, for making decisions that last.
  3. As the amount of information expands, there is an increasing need to scan that information at high level and selectively dive into the details.

Having this file on my local PC allows it to load very quickly. Maintaining control over the content of the on-ramp reduces the number of decisions I have to make each time I use the Internet. Storing the interfaces to my favorite search engines locally eliminates a step in the search process. Having quick access to various metadirectories increases the chances that I will find what I'm looking for.

Send me an email ( if you would be interested in beta testing software I'm writing to generate customized Internet on-ramps. The HTML editors I've tried keep messing up the bottom half of the on-ramp.

Increase Your Reading Speed by Quieting Subvocalization   
A recent newsgroup post asked for suggestions on how to eliminate subvocalization in order to increase reading speed. One guy responded that repeating a single word in his mind while he read for 6 months did the trick for him. I couldn't help but wonder if there was a quicker way to achieve this, so the next time I read and found myself subvocalizing, I observed what I did to stop: I increased the rate at which my eyes moved across the page to the point where it was impossible to subvocalize. I switched into a reading mode whereby I noticed gulps of words at each eye resting point. These gulps involved pulling words from multiple lines. I noticed that I was still understanding what I was reading but in a different way. I caught myself thinking: "But now I'm not really reading." In other words, part of my mind still believed that the definition of reading was to look at every word and sound it out in my mind. A better way to look at this issue is that you are wise to develop multiple reading strategies, some of which may include subvocalization and some that do not. See->Understand seems much more efficient than See->Say->Understand.

A handy way to increase your reading rate is to adjust the focus of your eyes (or attention). Look at any nearby image and zoom in on a particular aspect, like the button on a shirt. Then adjust the focus of your eyes so you can see the entire shirt. That's the process you can use to increase your reading speed by increasing the number of words you take in at each eye stop. In his book, Use Both Sides of Your Brain, Tony Buzan points out that our eyes only take in information when they are stopped. You can easily verify this by holding a book up in front of someone and watch their eyes as they read. Don't tell them what you are observing. What feels like continuous motion is actually move->stop->read, move->stop->read, etc. Fast readers minimize the number of stops by maximizing the number of words taken in at each stop.

Here's an exercise that will help you do this. Try looking at the following sentence in three ways:

Success leaves clues.

First, focus your attention/eyes on the first "S" in success.

Second, adjust your focus/attention so you can see the entire word, "success".

Third, adjust your focus so you are seeing all three words at the same time.

Because you can't say three words at the same time, you can't subvocalize if you are reading three words at a time.

Public Speaking Tips  
My experience suggests that a great deal of the fear people experience in front of a group is simply misdirected and mislabeled energy. When a group of people gives you their attention, it increases your energy level. If you free up your hands, and use them to make expressive energetic gestures, you free up the flow of energy. More experienced speakers can manage this energy in other ways, but this idea may help you get started.

Here are some notes I took at a recent seminar taught by Bob Pike that can help you Energize Your Audience .

Time Management Notes

"When we talk about time management, it seems ridiculous to worry about speed before direction, about saving minutes when we may be wasting years." --Stephen Covey

For a complimentary four-week sample of the Seven Habits Organizer, call (800) 680-6839. This is an excellent introduction to Covey's time management principles. The version of Schedule+ that shipped with Microsoft Office 95 includes a "Seven Habits Wizard" that teaches you a six step process for putting "first things first in your life." Select the "Seven Habits Tools" option from the "Tools" menu to begin.

Cool Products

  1. (Note: the following description was updated on 3/22/97 to reflect changes in the way this service operates.) Deja News Author Profile service allows you to view every newsgroup posting by any given author. You just enter their name or email address and click Search. If the search finds a posting by the person you are looking for, just click on the authors email address to see a summary of every newsgroup posting they have made in the last few years.
  2. WWMail shareware by WizardWare - allows you to email the same message to a list of email addresses. Just use Notepad to create a list of addresses, point WWMail to the file, and off it goes. It can be downloaded for free from the WizardWare website.
  3. GLIDE® Floss - This dental floss is made by W. L. Gore & Associates, the same company who makes GORE-TEX® outerwear. I mention it only because it is SO much better than floss made from other materials. Keeping your teeth healthy is another important strategy for optimizing mental clarity. Your dentist may have a free sample. Call (800) 645-4337 to order it or find a store near you that carries it. is now carrying Brain Dancing. My interview with them is now online.


Click here to see some of my favorite clean jokes.

Cool Self-development Articles

  1. Endorphin Morphin': Running Toward Mastery by Dale Kirby
  2. The Article of the Month, by NLP pioneer, Robert Dilts.
  3. Free Training Resources from Bob Pike

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