How to Remember Everyone’s Name at Your Next Cocktail Party or Business Meeting

Have you ever been introduced to a bunch of different people in a room and left not remembering anyone’s name? If you’ve ever wished that name recall came instantly and automatically for you, then I’ve got good news for you. Names tend to be pretty abstract on the surface. For many people, it’s easier to recognize faces than to remember names, which is why the secret to mastering name recall is to apply a strategy whereby a feature of that person tells you his or her name. Follow these 3 tips and you’ll never draw a blank again when you run into someone you’ve met before.

Thank you so much for your interest in Brainetics. For years now people have been asking me to write a book that features my best lessons for adults to learn in becoming productive, fast thinkers. I’m thrilled to finally be sharing with you the good news: it’s landing in bookstores in March. Want a preview? Below are some of my many secrets you’ll read about in The Power of Forgetting: Six Essential Skills to Clear Out Brain Clutter and Become the Sharpest, Smartest You. Take it to heart today. Be smarter tomorrow.


 

Tip #1: Listen Up!

So many of us fail to establish original awareness of a name when we first hear it. So it’s not that we forget names; it’s that we never hear them clearly at the start and end up with only gobbledygook to remember. I think it’s human nature not to want to ask someone to repeat his or her name. We don’t want to look stupid. To that I say, get over it! If you don’t catch a name clearly when you’re introduced to someone, ask again. And if it’s not an easy or common name, ask the person to spell it. That’s not rude, and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. If anything, the person will be flattered that you’re interested enough to want to remember their name. Even if you don’t think that you’ll ever see this person again in your life, get the name right the first time so that you won’t be caught off guard when you do meet again after all.

Tip #2: Create an Association to the Sound of the Name

Create a similar-sounding word or sentence using the sounds of the name. For instance, Karasek could sound like “carrot on a stick.” My name, Byster, could sound like “by the stairs.” In each case, you’d picture the individual embodying the phrase. So you’d picture Mr. Karasek holding a carrot on a stick, and you’d picture me standing by a staircase. As with any association you make when you want to remember something, it’s important to create the link in the moment—the very instant you’re first hearing the name (and perhaps shaking hands). And like most anything else, it will become easier and easier to apply this tactic as you practice it. Soon enough, you’ll be able to turn names like Kraszynski (pronounced “kra-zin-ski”) into phrases such as “crazy zin on skis” (“zin” for a bottle of zinfandel), or make the zin a “sin”; Djokovic (pronounced “joke-a-vich”) becomes “joke and fetch,” and Gutierrez becomes “gut in tiara.” If you’re familiar with more advanced vocabulary or the romance languages in particular, you might have noticed that the second part of Gutierrez contains sounds that are close to the word tierra, which means earth or land. So alternatively, you could associate this name with “gut in the earth.” As you can see, absurdity is allowed here, and the phrase you create needn’t contain every sound or syllable in the name. You just need to have enough sounds to give you the gist of it—then you can figure it out. Your memory will fill in the blanks.

Tip #3: Link a Physical Feature to Their Name

The third strategy is to identify a feature or characteristic about the person and link it to their name. The mere act of seeking an outstanding feature will force you to be aware of the person in a conscious manner, creating original awareness. Such a unique feature can be any number of things—crooked teeth, ears that stick out, a high forehead, a puggish nose, a mole on the cheek, acne, freckles. First impressions count! That is to say, first impressions tend to be lasting ones, so try to make your association the moment you meet. Use the first thing that comes to mind. The feature you choose doesn’t necessarily have to be something permanent. Let’s say you meet someone named Barry who happens to be wearing a blue shirt. Say to yourself, “Blueberry.” This word will trigger your memory the next time you see him and need to recall his name. Or let’s say you meet a Tamara who has a toothy grin. It’s not a name you’ve heard before, and it’s not easy to pronounce; you’re not sure if it’s closer to the word “tomorrow” or “tomato.” Assuming that it sounds more like “tomorrow,” with the second a sounding like the a in “car,” you could come up with “going to the dentist tomorrow” or something similar. The point is to single out a specific feature to which you can link a word or phrase and instantly associate that person with it. Even if it’s challenging to find a link that’s good and strong enough to permanently interlock a name and face in your memory, just trying will improve your memory. Face it: You’re doing what so few people do when they meet someone—and that’s paying attention!

Finally, I should add here that you do not need to know everyone’s name and face. Focus on just the ones you need or want to recall and forget the others. Practice these strategies in situations where you’re not feeling the pressure to remember.

Want more tips and best practices to improve your memory and mental performance? Pre-order your copy of my book, The Power of Forgetting, at your favorite retailer today at MikeByster.com.

How to Think Like a Memory Champ

Wish you had the memory of a pro so you can pack more information inside your head while expanding your processing speed, mental sharpness, and overall brainpower? Well, the secret lies in mastering one simple trick.

Thank you so much for your interest in Brainetics. For years now people have been asking me to write a book that features my best lessons for adults to learn in becoming productive, fast thinkers. I’m thrilled to finally be sharing with you the good news: it’s landing in bookstores in March. Want a preview? Below is one of many secrets you’ll read about in The Power of Forgetting: Six Essential Skills to Clear Out Brain Clutter and Become the Sharpest, Smartest You. Take it to heart today. Be smarter tomorrow.

Build a Memory Palace: A Place to Get Organized (and Comfortable)

At the World Memory Championships, top competitors memorize the order of twenty shuffled decks of cards in an hour and more than five hundred random digits in fifteen minutes, among other feats. Believe it or not, almost everybody has the capacity to perform such incredible feats if you know how to build a memory palace.

A memory palace is an imaginary place where you can go to recall information. What you basically do is envision a large building (a “palace”) in your mind and mentally decorate that building, filling it up from the inside out in ways that help you store information you need to remember. So, for instance, if I’m trying to memorize the signers of the Declaration of Independence, I might go to a parlor in my memory palace where all of the signers are sitting around the table. Or I could have a kitchen where my refrigerator is adorned with important telephone numbers. But memory palaces needn’t be based on palaces per se. They can be based on a trusty route you take to work or a single room where you are most comfortable, such as your bedroom, or a favorite garden. The only rules you have to follow in building this fictional setting are to make it relevant to yourself and your life and to make it totally bizarre.You have to give yourself the freedom to fill your personal space with eccentric objects, situations, people, and even characters.

With time and practice, anyone can build a memory palace, and again, your palace can reap a wide spectrum of benefits for you that go beyond a memory champ’s achievements. You can use your palace at work to mentally stage your presentation at the next board meeting. You can use it at school to recall a year’s worth of knowledge for a final exam or in an athletic setting to store critical information about plays or strategies. And you can use it in more personal ways as well, such as remembering important information like birthdays, anniversaries, your social calendar, and appointments. For instance, you could organize a year’s worth of birthday dates by picturing a twelve-story building, with each floor designated as a month. January is the first floor, and your twelfth floor represents December. Within each floor you have mental pictures that signify the people and corresponding dates of their individual birthdays.

            Lots of Web sites will teach you how to build a memory palace. Most of them follow similar instructions, such as:

  • Decide on a blueprint for your palace. Will it reflect your house? Your drive to work? A favorite vacation spot?
  • Define a route with its specific locations and storage spots.
  • Memorize your memory palace.
  • Place things to be remembered in your palace, using symbols and images that are relevant to you and that reflect your creativity. This means you might not stock a closet with all of the planets. Instead, you’ll “see” a mobile of the planets hanging over your bed.
  • Keep exploring your palace to lock it into memory, and make changes as necessary.
  • Use your palace.

You may even want to draw your memory palace on paper the first time you do this exercise. See if that works for you. Memory palaces aren’t for everyone, and they can take time and practice to get used to. But for some of us they can be astonishingly effective. You just might surprise yourself.

 

Want more tips and best practices to improve your memory and mental performance? Pre-order your copy of my book, The Power of Forgetting, at your favorite retailer today at MikeByster.com.

 

4 Secrets to Organizing Info Quickly in Your Brain

Don’t ruin your productivity and peace of mind by letting too much incoming data leave you overwhelmed and scatterbrained. These 4 secrets to organizing ideas and important facts in your brain will go a long way to keep you mentally sharp and efficient.

Thank you so much for your interest in Brainetics. For years now people have been asking me to write a book that features my best lessons for adults to learn in becoming productive, fast thinkers. I’m thrilled to finally be sharing with you the good news: it’s landing in bookstores in March. Want a preview? Below is one of many secrets you’ll read about in The Power of Forgetting: Six Essential Skills to Clear Out Brain Clutter and Become the Sharpest, Smartest You. Take it to heart today. Be smarter tomorrow.

Secret #1:      Don’t Be Detail Oriented

If you try to absorb and mentally work with a truckload of material bombarding your brain, you won’t be able to easily hold up a stop sign in time to begin sorting and organizing it well. It’ll quickly become muddled and unyielding. What happens is similar to shoving too many things into the X-ray machine as you’re going through airport security. Suddenly the TSA agent can’t see anything and the whole machine gets jammed.

Now, the mind won’t ever literally break down if it receives too much information at once, but all of us have experienced being inundated with too much information. To maximize our ability to mentally organize incoming thoughts and ideas, we need to have a sorting system in place. We can’t wait until the mind is already sinking under the weight of too much data. By then it’s too late. This is when separating the important facts from the distracting details is paramount. Facts are not the same as details.And here’s a tip: Most important facts get repeated more than once, but they tend to be buried by distracting details. So pay attention to those repeats.

Secret #2:      Chunk It Down: Think in Fives and Tens

Why are Social Security numbers given in chunks of three, two, and four (999-99-9999) instead of as one unbroken number (999999999)? Why do phone numbers have hyphens in them? Because it’s much easier to remember information when it’s grouped into smaller chunks. I find that my brain prefers to remember things in groups of five, but maybe groups of four or eight will be your magic number.

Groupings allow you to organize information and sometimes apply other memory strategies, such as key words, or a code you totally make up using your imagination. This method can be used for a wide variety of tasks, from recalling lists of items to remembering basic concepts, important points, or topics that you want to cover in a presentation at work or perhaps in approaching your boss for a raise. In a studying environment, if you’re trying to figure out how to commit to memory a long batch of notes, see if you can break down your detailed notes into chunks of five main concepts. This will help you mentally organize all the material and recall the important facts.

Secret #3:      Once Upon a Time: Don’t Forget the Power of Story

Stories make things memorable—and organizable—because they allow us to paint pictures and produce movies in our minds. They help us create order out of chaos by attributing a clear and tidy image to a piece of information. This in itself is a way of organizing thoughts and data. Stories inherently force order because they are themselves organized entities—they have a beginning, middle, and end.

Storytelling is essential to memory, and being able to create stories in your mind, however absurd or ludicrous, is a fundamental memory strategy. Go with what works for you and, most important, what’s fun for you. And if creating stories out of key words isn’t your thing, then try making up a mnemonic sentence instead. Find associations between the information you need to know and an area in your life you’re passionate about. For example, I associate lots of information I need to retain with baseball. Maybe for you connections can be made with marathon running, cooking, tae kwon do, dancing, or painting.

Secret #4:      Find a Single Word for Each Thought

A fourth way to help classify and categorize large amounts of incoming data so you can mentally organize your thoughts and capture what needs to be permanently stored is to do what many expert orators do: label chunks of similar information with a single word or term. Not only can this technique help you hold the remote control when your brain is besieged with information, but it can be incredibly useful when you are asked to speak in front of a large group while mentally juggling a library of details to share in your remarks. The pressure to perform alone can smother your memory and steal the thoughts you’re trying so hard to keep on the tip of your tongue.

 

Want more tips and best practices to improve your memory and mental performance? Pre-order your copy of my book, The Power of Forgetting, at your favorite retailer today at www.mikebyster.com.

 

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