Art of Speed Listening

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Software developer by day, author by night, Heather Smith does not have a lot of downtime. (KFSN)

Software developer by day, author by night, Heather Smith does not have a lot of downtime. But she loves to listen to audiobooks and to cram in as much possible she cranks up the speed on the read rate.

"I started out at the 1.25. And then I bumped it up pretty quickly to 1.5.--and then pretty quickly after that I decided I could listen at the full," said Smith.

Speeding up audiobooks and podcasts is simple thanks to a variety of apps and some features already built into your cell phone--some can even shorten silences between sentences.

"There is no reason that we can't speed something up and get just as much out of it," said Ray Pastore.

Professor Pastore has published several studies on speed listening and found it can make for "more efficient" learning in academics. But he says the process can take some getting used to.

We're not used to hearing things fast. We're actually used to hearing these 150 words per minute speech. So when we listen to something faster, it takes a little bit of training," said Pastore.

How fast can you go? We found some apps offering speeds five or even 10 times the normal rate.

But you may want to check the speed limit. Pastore's research shows there is such a thing as "too fast"--if you want to remember what you hear.

"If you set the speed too fast, comprehension decreases. In fact, after about 1.5 times, comprehension significantly decreases on a steady pace until we get to about 2 times where comprehension just falls off the chart."

As for Smith, she loves taking in her audio at about twice the speed and says for her, fast is the new normal.

"It's almost painful to listen slow," said Smith.

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