I was absolutely horrible at remembering people’s names. At best, I could remember 1 out of 10 names of people I had previously met. The cliche, “I’m horrible with names” reluctantly came out of my mouth far too often. Nothing was more embarrassing than forgetting the name of a person you just met, especially a client or even worse, a family member.
All changed a few years ago when I learned a simple memory trick. Today, I can remember close to 99% of people’s names I meet. That’s not an exaggeration, I’m that good and you can be too, as long as you take 2 minutes and learn how to easily remember names, using this simple memory trick.
The Easy Memory Trick
This is how you remember names. When you meet a new person, immediately associate their name with someone famous or something very popular like a big brand or popular product. The crazier and the more visual, the better.
For example, a few months ago I met my new neighbor “Bill” for the first time. As soon as he said his name I immediately took a mental pause and associated his name with “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, a crazy movie I watched all the time as a kid. Now, every time I see my neighbor, I don’t think about his name first, I instinctively think of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and poof, it becomes apparent that his name is “Bill”.
Yes, that’s a true story, and yes the trick is that simple.
From this point on associate every person’s name with something familiar. Meet a “Wendy”, think Wendy’s Fast Food. Meet “Mike”, think Mike Tyson. Meet Sam, think Sam’s Club. It’s totally up to you. Whatever pops in your mind. But part of the trick is that you have to do it immediately. You can’t wait until later.
Let’s look at one more real example. The other day, I met a lady in the park who had an adorable Mini Australian Shepherd, just like mine. After a few minutes of chatting, she told me her name was “Joanne”. I immediately responded and actually said out-load, “Joanne, Joanne, Joanne… Jo-Ann Fabrics!” Her eyes grew wide, and her heard tilted back as if I abruptly started to speak a foreign language. I quickly explained to her what I was doing and how the trick works.
How does this work?
The human brain is super cool and super complicated. Every day the human brain stores new information as short-term memories or long-term memories. Short-term memories are stored in our brains for as little as 30 seconds and could last up to a few days, then it’s gone forever; or it’s buried way down into the subconscious where it’s not retrievable. Unfortunately, humans don’t really visualize names, and most names aren’t unique, so they’re often stored as short-term memories and then quickly discarded by our brains.
On the other hand, long-term memories are stored for years and years at a time. In many cases we store long term memories for our entire lives. Among other things, long-term memories are often very visual and unique, like a person’s face. You can almost see the memory in your mind.
So, how do we trick a short-term memory like a name into becoming a long-term memory? The simple answer is to immediately associate and connect a short-term memory to a long-term memory before the short-term memory is gone.
If you meet a George, immediately associate that name with a long-term memory like George Washington, George Jefferson, or George of the Jungle. If someone introduces you to a Marvin, think Marvin the Martian, or Marvin the comic strip. It’s that easy and guaranteed to work.
My Final Thoughts
Anyone can do this. It just takes the knowledge, which you now have, and a little bit of practice. I’m really hoping you’ll test this out, come back, and tell me about your experience in the comments below. Either way, good luck and thanks for reading.
Try this out, come back, and share thoughts below!