One thing I get asked a lot as a memory speaker is how to help people remember people’s names. Actually it is very simple but it will take a little practice.
The first thing we are going to have to do is to re-wire your brain a little. OK don’t freak out, this really is just as simple as changing a habit. How often do you do this… you’re at party/meeting etc. and you walk up to someone, shake hands and exchange first names. And within 5 seconds you have already forgotten their name. Well, your not alone. This is what 90% of people do and I myself had to get over this habit. Even when I find myself in a room of 200 people and my sole objective is to learn and memorize everyone’s first name so that I can open my program by naming each person individually, I still have to resist the urge (the old bad habit that is) to throw their name away as soon as I learn it. Why do we do this? Well your mind thinks like this. Hey there are 50 people in the room, and your not going to remember, or need to remember anyone’s name for later so why even try. But what if, you took it one person at a time and did learn these names.
So STEP 1 is to simply make a new habit to listen and learn the name. Slow down and take a moment to say it out loud at least once and then a few times silently to yourself.
STEP 2 is to make some kind of an association with their name. Take for instance the name Bob. Recently I met a man with this name and he was wearing a sleeveless winter coat. You know, the kind that almost look like a life vest. So I pictured him “Bobbing” up and down in the water wearing his life vest. Now soon after I met him he took the vest off so I had to make an association of him wearing this vest strong enough that it would last so that when I saw him even with out the vest I could picture him wearing it.
Now you’re going to have to be creative here as they won’t all be that easy. How about a lady named Theresa wearing a flower print dress? Picture Mother Theresa giving out flowers to children. But wait, not just any flowers, HUGE flowers. So big that the children can’t even hold them with out falling over. You must look at the flowers on her dress and really visualize this happening. Look at Theresa’s face, the flowers on her dress and make the association strong and tell this story to yourself a couple of times of her giving out the flowers that are insanely big. Vividly picture the action of Mother Theresa giving the flowers out while you look at both Theresa’s face and the flowers on her dress.
And while picture images like Bob’s life vest work well, the stories and actions in these stories will make the real impression. Picturing Bob bobbing up and down in the water bridges the gap between the life vest. Why? Because when I picture him bobbing up and down I do so in an exaggerated form. In other words I picture Bob jetting up 10 or 20 feet out of the water every time he “bobs” out of the water. If you had seen such an impossible and absurd thing in real life and then someone made a joke about his name being Bob and everyone laughed, could you even forget his name if you tried??? Make the story absurd, visual and or abstract and it will stick!
If you saw a man that you were attending a conference with cuss out a waiter over lunch could you ever forget that he was rude? No, you would always know him as “that rude man” from that moment on. Let’s say later in the day you found out that this rude man’s name was Jude. And you started calling him “Rude Jude” in your mind. Ten years later, you would remember his name!
But since you don’t get to pick people’s names, and not everyone does absurd things (in your presence anyway) let’s see how to apply what we have learned. Say I just meet a lady named Sheila. I might immediately make up a story about how she went to Australia and got so confused because people were constantly saying her name (as Sheila is a commonly used word for woman in Australia) and she got so tired of it she finally started yelling at everyone using her name and that she finally went to the airport and demanded to get on a plane and fly home cutting her vacation short by a week. This to me seems like an absurd thing to do, does it not? If you had witnessed this act first hand, could you ever forget Sheila’s name? Make the story and really picture the scene and you will remember the name.
STEP 3 is to use the name a few times. I like to say a name out loud 2-3 times depending on how long I talk with them. Saying a name out loud 3 times in a 30 second greeting is awkward. But if you are talking with someone for a few minutes it is OK to say it once upon meeting, again at some point in the conversation and one more time upon your departure. But more importantly, say it to yourself silently while looking at their physical features and recalling this absurd story and identifying a physical landmark to associate with the story when applicable. Like the flower on Theresa’s dress and her handing the giant flowers to the children.
Apply these techniques and you will amaze people the next time you go to a party or business meeting and subtly address everyone there by their first name. Or gather everyone up in a group and call them all out one by one. People notice when you notice them!
For more information on my “Memory Magic” program and to watch a video that further explains how to learn and memorize names go to www.DenverMotivationalSpeaker.com . Additionally you can learn how I can bring this program to your association or business anywhere in the United States or abroad to teach attendees how to learn and memorize and then apply it to their business.