When pop culture is tasked with presenting us characters who speak 17 languages, know way too much about far too many subjects, and/or are insufferably intelligent in general, speed reading tends to be the go-to skill to display their talent. In the classic "he's secretly a genius" movie Good Will Hunting, they make sure to show Will alone in his barren apartment with a huge stack of books, rapidly flipping pages of dense text like he's casually browsing through a SkyMall catalog. Anybody who can absorb information that fast is either a genius or a robot, right?
Or the text is just really large.
Well, here's good news for the vast majority of people who aren't Mensa-brained but want to appear to be: An ability to read quickly doesn't require a genius IQ, even if it will fool people at parties into thinking you have one. Anyone and their aunt can learn to speed read in a matter of minutes.
Provided you already know how to read (in which case, hi!), then you already have the ability to speed read. The training simply involves getting rid of the flaws that slow you down. For instance, your eyes naturally move in jerky twitches that make you skip backward and reread text due to periodically losing your place (you don't notice it, but 30 percent of your time spent reading is wasted because of this). Fixing that is as simple as practicing reading with a "tracker" -- just using a pen or something to follow the text as you read it, forcing your eyes to keep moving forward. Next, you time yourself. Find out how long it takes you to get through a few lines at your normal speed, and then set a timer. This time, give yourself twice as much text to read in the same span.
"OK, now read the entire Harry Potter series in eight minutes ... go!"