I was absolutely horrible at remembering people’s names. At best, I could remember 1 out of 10 names of the 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 that 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, if you take 2 minutes and learn this simple memory trick used by the best memory experts in the world, who some may consider to be savants, but in reality, are just average people who know how the human memory works.
The Easy Memory Trick
This is how to 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 neighborm “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 as a kid. It’s the first thing that popped in my head. Now, every time I see my neighbor, I don’t try to remember hi first name; instead, 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 by saying out-load, “Joanne, Joanne, Joanne… Jo-Ann Fabrics!” Her eyes grew wide, and her head 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.
The “science” behind this trick?
The human brain is super cool and super complicated. Every day the human brain stores new information either 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 long term memories in your mind.
So, how do we trick a short-term memory into 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.