I used to feel embarrassed and socially inept when I forgot people’s names until I learned that 90 percent of healthy adults forget names. Yay, I’m normal. But as a magician and frequent public speaker I can meet up to two hundred people in a week and want to greet them by name when we meet again. In my quest to get better at this, here’s what I’ve learned.
Memory expert Harry Lorayne (also a master magician) is the world's foremost memory-training specialist and the author of The Memory Book, which topped the New York Times bestseller list for more than 50 weeks.
Lorayne’s memory training method “has worked for literally millions of people all over the world for decades!” says Harry. Prominent people like New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Alan Alda, Mel Brooks and many others his system to acquire a better than photographic memory.
Here are six ways to win the name game.
Get it right the first time
I was guilty of this in the past. My problem was not paying proper attention and didn’t fully hear their name when I initially met them (storage). This made it difficult later to recall their name when I next saw them (retrieval).
1. People love the sound of their own names, so don’t be embarrassed to ask them to repeat it or even spell it. You’ll actually flatter them if you do.
a. Look into their eyes when learning their name.
b. Silently repeat it three times to yourself.
c. Use their name at the beginning and end of the conversation.
2. Link their name to an occupation, hobby or distinguishing facial feature. Adding an alliteration to assist, so if you’re introduced to a Mrs. Trish Chambers with prominent cheekbones, think “Cheekbones Chambers” or if she’s a cute chef then remember “Trish the Dish."
3. Most people are visual learners, which explains why we rarely forget faces but often forget names. When you associate names to ridiculous pictures, your mind’s eye permanently stores this information for immediate recall. For example, if you want to remember the name Barry Stein, visualize a tiny dog burying (Barry) a huge beer stein (Stein) in the ground.
Get Up to Speed
As you get up to speed with proper storage techniques you might occasionally forget a name. So how do you ask a person’s forgotten name without offending them? Here are three ways of asking.
4. Tactful: “Can you remind me of your name?”
5. Funny: “I’ve drawn a blank – early senior moment – your name is…?”
6. Clever: “You look like my cousin Amy, but you’re not her. Your name is…?”
You’ll see immediate results employing any one of the three storage techniques and the three retrievals are polite and appropriate in any setting. Train your brain and form better habits for remembering names and you’ll win the name game.
*Bonus* Party Time Tips
Whenever possible take the lead and offer your name first and the guest will reciprocate. Here are a few opening lines:
- “Hi, I’m Michael, Barbara’s husband.”
- “Why don’t you introduce yourself to Pam?”
- “Have you met my brother, Steve?”
Your turn: What memory tips and tricks do you use?
Be the first to respond!