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Have you ever wondered how those memory experts that you see on television are able to remember the names of an audience of over 100 people? As their finale, they have everyone stand up. They then point to each person, calling out their first and last name, and tell them to sit down. They do this until the entire audience is seated, astounding viewers and audience alike.

Actually this is quite simple. Using these techniques and with some practice you’ll be astounding your friends and family at social gatherings and other get-togethers.

In this second in a four-part series on memory techniques, I will share with you how they do this, as well as how you can learn to remember the names of everyone that you meet.

Memory Skill #2: How to Remember the Names of Everyone You Meet

Dale Carnegie, in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” stressed the fact that the sweetest sound a person can hear is their own name. When you forget that name, not only is it embarrassing, but it shows a lack of interest on your part.

Because most names are abstract, you will again learn how to convert an abstract symbol into a concrete picture that your mind will be able to instantly recall.

Step 1: Find an Attribute about them that Stands Out

As you’re conversing with someone, pay attention to not only what they’re saying but look for any physical traits that stand out. This will be your memory peg, the source of recall for their name.

For example, if the fellow that you’re talking to has a big nose, then that can be the peg for him. If she has a noticeable tattoo, use that as their peg. If they have a big neck, use that. Whatever physical feature you notice about them first, you can use as a peg.

As a side note, if you want to simply astound your friends at a party and are not worried about knowing everyone’s name beyond that day, you can choose something that they’re wearing or carrying. However, be aware that this doesn’t often work in the long run because obviously the next time you see them, they might not be wearing or carrying that item.

Step 2: Convert their Name into a Picture

After you’ve discovered their memory peg, the next step involves converting their name into a picture. How does this work? Well, some names you can instantly associate with an image. For Mike you might see a microphone; Bill, a dollar bill; Pam, the non-stick frying pan spray.

However for most, you need to break up their name into sound bundles. As I explained in the last post, you convert each of these sound bundles to words, ideally nouns.

On the easier side we see that Kate sounds like kite, Paul could be a pole, Phil a phillips screwdriver. As we get to multiple syllable names, you need to break up these sound bundles into something memorable. For example, when I meet a Richard, I picture him itching hard (Richard -> Itch Hard). Or Samuel, I see a mule made of sand, a sand mule. Are you getting the picture (no pun intended) ;) .

You do the same thing for the last name as well. With time you will build up a database of first and last names that you can use over and over.

Step 3: Gel the Memory into your Brain with Action

After you have discovered their peg, and have come up with pictures that represent their name, you now want to combine the two with action! Action is what keeps the picture attached to the peg.

Let’s say we just met a man named Tom Cruise. The first thing we notice is his big honker of a nose, so we make a mental note of that peg. Next we convert his first and last name into pictures. For me I always use thumb for Tom (Tom Thumb maybe?). You will come up with your own pictures. For his last name you may picture a cruise ship.

After we have discovered his peg and converted his name into pictures, we now combine the two using action, again the more ridiculous the better. I instantly picture his nose sprouting feet and jumping off his face onto a cruise ship. The cruise ship is filled with people picking up the nose and sticking their thumbs in it, causing the nose to cry. The more senses you use the better.

You might be thinking that this is way too complicated and would take too long just to remember someone’s name. I promise you that if you practice this with everyone that you meet, that this whole process becomes very quick. In the beginning, after meeting someone, it may take you a minute to go through this, but with time, especially as you build up your database of name pictures, you can do this in about 5 seconds. The speed will come, so stick with it.

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