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Mental Techniques to Improve Your Memory

In our knowledge based society, the amount and type of knowledge that you have largely determines the success or failure you experience in life. As a result, having a good memory has become more important than ever.

Put quite simply, the better your memory is, the easier you will find it to learn and understand things. In turn, this will make it easier for you to achieve the goals which you set for yourself and live the life that you want to live.

With a good memory, you will have access to much more information than a person with a poor memory, and so will be able to use that information to enrich your everyday life with.

This “enrichment” will come in the form of new perspectives and possibilities that become evident to you as a result of what you know.

memory test

Learning how to improve your memory will do more than just help you pass a test, it will benefit all areas of your life.

This knowledge could mean the difference between being poor or getting rich, or being successful or unsuccessful, because what you know in life not only shapes the type of life that you currently live, but it also shapes the type of life that you can live.

So if you want to change your life for the better, you must be willing to learn more so that you can experience more. Of course, in order for you to do this, you need to have a good memory!

Do you think you have a bad memory?

When a person begins to believe that they have a poor memory, it gradually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby their beliefs about having a poor memory actually cause them to have a poor memory!

For example, if you think that you have a bad memory and someone gives you their phone number, you probably won’t even try to remember it because you think that you will forget it anyway.

Or, if someone tells you their name, you don’t really try to remember it and even tell them to their face that you will probably forget it later.

forgetful

What you believe about your ability to remember things eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Another example can be found with elderly people who continually tell themselves that their memory isn’t as good as it used to be. This is despite the fact that most elderly people can still recall their youth in great detail.

These kinds of self-imposed limitations can destroy your innate potential for a powerful memory, even before you make the attempt to memorize something.

So if you do have such limitations, make sure that you identify them and then recognize them for what they are: false beliefs which can be overcome with the right knowledge.

The health of your brain

One very important thing that you should be aware of before exploring the subject of memory, is that your memory can improve or decline through use or neglect.

This means that the more you practice trying to improve your memory, the better it will become. The less you rely on or use your memory, the worse it will become.

brain exercising

The more you use your brain the stronger your memory will become.

Generally speaking, this same principle of use and disuse applies to the brain as a whole. The more you use your brain, the more intelligent you become and the healthier your brain becomes.

Memory, could therefore be viewed as one indicator as to current health of your brain. The worse your memory is, the unhealthier your brain is likely to be.

An unhealthy brain means that you will think slower, have less original ideas and thoughts, be less intelligent and be more at risk of brain disorders and diseases later in life. These reasons alone should be enough to make you want to improve your memory!

Why Your Memory is Better Than You Think

Most people will, at some point in their life, complain of having memory problems. They may even doubt their ability to remember something, such as a student who wonders how it is possible for them to remember so much information for an exam.

The reality, however, is that the capacity of your memory is virtually limitless.

So you don’t have to worry about your brain being overloaded with information, because as long as you remember something in the right way, you shouldn’t have any problem remembering it.

man thinking

Entering information into memory is easy. It’s getting it out that’s the hard part.

The real difficultly lies not with forming memories, but rather, with retrieving information that has already been stored. It is this failure of retrieval that people falsely label as a “bad memory”.

To give you an idea of how just good your memory actually is, have a look at the following points listed below:

Dreaming of Past Events

You have likely had many dreams in your lifetime about past events, and some of those dreams may have seemed so lifelike and real that you thought you were actually in the dream.

dreaming

In some dreams we have seemingly near perfect recall of events that happened many years ago.

The fact that people can dream about past events in great detail is evidence of a good memory, because you are able to remember something which, in some cases, happened decades ago.

The difficultly lies in accessing this information again, or being able to recall your dreams in more detail when you are awake. Fortunately, this can be done with a bit of training.

All you need to do is to start writing down your dreams in a notebook, and you will find that your ability to recall them when you wake up will slowly start to improve over time.

Tip of the Tongue Memories

Have you ever tried to remember something, but no matter how hard you tried you couldn’t remember? Even though it was on the “tip of your tongue”? Then, just as you gave up and stopped trying, you suddenly remembered it?

tongue

When it’s on the tip of your tongue you know that you know it, but you just can’t seem to remember it.

Tip of the tongue events are more evidence of your super memory power. As they show that the information which you are trying to recall is in your brain, but again, it’s accessing it which is the problem.

What we learn from such events is that memory recall favors the relaxed mind. So if you stress yourself out about not being able to remember something, then you will only make it more difficult for you to remember it.

Random Recall of Information

The ability to suddenly recall bits of information which you thought you had forgotten about, is yet more evidence that the brain remembers a lot more than you think it does.

postcard memory

Memories can quickly come flooding back given the right stimulus.

For example, if you return back to your childhood home after being away for many years, just being there will start to bring back a whole host of memories which you had “forgotten” about.

Another example can be found when talking to someone about something which you did together in the past, and then being reminded of something that you had completely forgotten about.

So again, the information is still in your brain, it’s accessing it which is causing you the problem.

People With Excellent Memories

You have probably seen at least one documentary about people who are able to remember large amounts of information. Most of these people, except the savants, appear no different to you or I.

Kim Peek

Kim Peek, the savant who inspired the movie “Rain Man”.

One thing that these “memory masters” have in common, is the various techniques which they use to remember things.

What this seems to suggest is that we all have the potential for an excellent memory. We just need to learn how to use it in the right way.

Your Unlimited Memory Potential

It is not uncommon for a student who is revising for an exam, to think that they have so much information to learn that it will never be able to fit inside their brain.

brain

You could enter 10 new pieces of information per second into your brain for your entire life, and your brain’s storage capacity would only be half full.

But if Professor Mark Rosenzweig’s work on the brain is anything to go by, we could enter 10 new pieces of information into the brain every second, for an entire lifetime, and the brain wouldn’t even be half full in terms of its storage capacity!

What this means is that there is no point in worrying about how you are going to remember a lot of information, because the brain can store more information than you could possibly feed it in a lifetime.

Recall From Brain Stimulation

When a neurosurgeon electrically stimulates the brain of a patient who is undergoing brain surgery, some patients will recall memories from their childhood that appear so vivid that it’s almost like they are reliving them.

brain surgery

Patients often report experiencing vivid memories of past events during brain surgery.

They can recall smells, noises, colors, tastes, how they felt and a whole host of other details which they had forgotten about.

Some neuroscientists, such as Professor Wilder Penfield, believe that within each cluster of brain cells lies a perfect store of every event from our past. If we could find the right stimulus, we could replay the entire thing.

Near Death Flashbacks

out of body experience

Having your whole life flash before your eyes when you die suggests that we remember much more than we think we do.

Just as people can relive certain events from their past when undergoing electric brain stimulation, many people have reported experiencing flashbacks of their life when they thought that they were going to die or did die but then came back to life.

Death may therefore be the stimulus that Wilder Penfield was looking for, the ultimate memory recall device that gives us full access to all the memories which we have stored throughout our entire life.

Photographic Memory

Photographic memory is the ability to recall something which you have seen in the past in great detail, as if you were actually looking at a photograph. Some people have a permanent photographic memory, whilst others experience it only occasionally.

boy taking photograph

Some people are able to remember things exactly as they were, just like a photograph.

It is, however, also possible to develop a photographic memory. People in the Secret Service or Special Forces for example, can quickly glance at a room and know all the details about it such as what is in the room, who is in the room and where things and people are.

What this shows is that if it is possible to develop a photographic memory, then it must also be possible to improve your memory from what it is now.

The only caveat is that you must be willing to work on improving your memory and be willing to learn the relevant memorization techniques.

Images Help Prevent Forgetting

In one set of memory experiments, subjects were shown 1000 photographs of faces, one after the other, for one second per picture.

Researchers then added 100 new photographs to the original 1000, and then asked subjects to identify which faces they had seen before and which faces they had not.

random images

If you were asked to look at these images you would easily be able to identify them again, even if they were mixed in with new images.

All subjects, regardless of how they described their memory ability, were able to correctly identify nearly all the faces which they had seen from those which they had not seen.

What we learn from this experiment is that the brain tends to remember visual information the best, much better than it does other types of information, such as words.

So if you want to memorize something, then trying to visualize it as a picture, rather than just repeating a word in your head, is likely to be much more useful in terms of you being able to remember it later on.

12 Easy Ways to Improve Your Memory

Below you will find 12 easy ways to improve your memory by using some basic memorization techniques and knowledge about how the brain works.

1) Relate to What You Already Know

One of the best things that you can do to improve your memory, is simply to understand what you are trying to remember by relating it to what you already know.

memories

The brain creates memories most easily when it’s able to connect similar pieces of information together.

For example, if you meet someone and his name is Bozar, then instead of trying to remember that name by repeating it over and over again, you could think of something to relate it to.

If your dog is named Bozar, then it will be easy for you to remember that name because it’s already familiar to you. If you can’t think of something exactly the same, think of something else that is related in some way.

2) Be Interested

The more interested that you are in something, the more you will enjoy doing it and the easier it will be for you to remember it. The reverse of this is also true. The less interest you have in something, the more difficult it will be for you to remember it.

monkey

Curiosity motivates you to find out more about something, and is usually driven by a perceived benefit or gain that you would like to obtain.

Therefore, in order to improve your memory, try to become interested in whatever it is that you are trying to memorize.

Some things you will be naturally interested in, and others you won’t. For the latter, try to think of a reason why it would be beneficial to learn something even though you may find it difficult or boring to do.

A reason that I like to use which sparks my interest in just about anything, is that new information and experiences are good for the health of the brain, especially the things that are difficult or hard to do.

3) Think Deeply

thoughtful dog

The more you think about something the more likely you are to connect it to things you already know.

You will usually find that the things you remember well are the things you think deeply about. So if you come across some information and just skim over it without really thinking about it, then chances are you won’t remember it for very long.

So use your brain and really think about what it is that you are trying to remember, because the more you do, the better your memory will be. A good way to think about something more deeply is to ask yourself questions about it and then answer them.

4) Desire to Remember For a Long Time

There are two main types of memory. Things that you remember in the short-term, and things that you remember in the long-term. But did you know that how long you want to remember something for can actually affect how long you do remember it for?

time

The more important that something is to you, the longer you are likely to remember it for.

For example, if you are learning something but just want to learn it for an exam, then you are likely to remember it for your exams and then forget it soon afterwards.

However, if you intend to remember something for a long time, then you are likely to do so because the brain will see that information as important and hold onto it.

Since we receive so much information throughout the day, and throughout our lives, the brain tends to grade information by its importance.

So the more important that something is to you, the longer you are likely to remember it. The less important that something is to you, the quicker you are likely to forget it.

5) Create Associations

This memory technique involves associating something with something else.

For example, if you want to remember to do something in the morning but don’t have a pen and paper to write yourself a note, you could leave something on the bedroom floor and associate it with the thing that you want to remember.

octopus hands

Use objects to remind you of the things you want to remember.

When you trip over or pick up that object in the morning, you will automatically remember why you put it there and the mental note that you made the previous night.

You can do this with any type of object, and sometimes, this will happen to you by accident where you forget to do something but then suddenly remember it upon seeing something.

6) Memorize Sequences

A,B,C,D,E,F,G… it’s easy to remember the alphabet, because one letter leads to another. It’s a sequence of letters that you took the time to memorize as a child.

alphabet letters

A,B,C…Sequences make things easy to remember.

Sequences are easiest to remember when they make logical sense, such as 1,2,3,4,5,6, which is why saying the alphabet is easy because you are always reciting the next letter from start to finish.

7) Avoid Sugar

Eating sugary food or drinking sugary drinks is bad news for your memory. This is because sugar inhibits memory forming enzymes, and so as a result, you end up remembering less of what you were trying to learn.

sad coke

Sugar inhibits memory forming enzymes.

So to improve your memory, avoid all sources of sugar during lectures, revision sessions or whenever you are trying to remember something of importance.

Sugar can also come in the form of white flour, so avoid simple carbohydrates such as cakes and sweets too.

8) Create a Strong Impression

The stronger an impression that something makes on you, the easier it will be for you to remember it. Some things will naturally make a strong impression, whilst other things won’t.

girl shocked

If something makes a strong impression on you, you are likely to remember it for a very long time, if not your whole life.

A strong impression is just something that stimulates your brain a lot. Therefore, the more you stimulate your brain, the more easily you will remember something and the better your memory will be.

You can stimulate your brain by using as many different senses as possible. For example, thinking about something in your head, speaking it out loud, looking at something, acting it out and writing it down, will provide you with the maximum brain stimulation and make remembering it easy.

9) Don’t Confuse Memories

This is a memory tip for students or anyone who has lots of things to remember. Your memory works best when you give your brain time to absorb the information which you have just learned.

colored fish

The brain needs time to process what it has just learned, and so can get confused if you do lots of similar things one after the other.

For example, if you are studying maths for an hour, then you would remember what you have just learned best if the next subject that you studied was something completely different to maths.

Studying similar subjects one after the other actually inhibits your memory, and results in you remembering less because the brain needs time for the new information to “sink in”.

So avoid doing similar things after each other, and you will improve your memory for the all the subjects that you have studied.

10) Review Multiple Times

writing on paper

Studying something once, then the next day, the next week and in one month’s time, will vastly increase future recall of that information.

The best way to remember something is to learn it once, review it the next day, review it in a weeks time and then review it again in a month.

This constant exposure will ensure that you remember something in great detail, and will also make future recall of that information much easier and more resistant to forgetting.

11) Sleep on It

tired morning

Providing you don’t wake up feeling overly tired, sleep is an excellent way to help you remember and understand things.

If you really need to remember something in great detail, such as for an exam, learn the material during the day but quickly review it at night before bed.

During sleep, the brain will process that information, resulting in you remembering and understanding it better the following day.

12) Stay in the Same Location

thinking whiteboard

Recall of information is best in the location that it was first learned.

Studies have shown that recall of information is best when it’s recalled in the location that it was learned. So if it’s possible for you to do so, try to use the information that you are remembering in the location that it will be used.

This principle can be further applied to familiar objects, such as stationary or an item of clothing.

If you can learn your material with those objects, and then have those objects with you during recall, such as during an exam, they will help to create a familiar environment for you, even if you are in an unfamiliar place, thereby assisting memory recall.

Harnessing the Magic of Mnemonics

Mnemonics are a type of memory technique that have been used since ancient times as a means of making information easier to remember.

They work on the basis of one simple principle; associating what you are trying to remember with what you already know by using words, images or feelings.

If you want to use mnemonics to improve your memory, there are nine main ways in which you can do this as described below. Try to use as many of these techniques as possible for maximum effect.

1) Use Color

colored crayons

Colorful things are more stimulating to the brain than things lacking in color.

The more colors that you can use, and the more vivid those colors are, the better you will be able to remember something.

So if you are picturing something in your head, try to add as much color to it as you can and you should find recalling it becomes a lot easier later on.

2) Use Your Imagination

imagination

The more you use your imagination the better your memory will be.

Your imagination is one of the most powerful memory tools that you have at your disposal, and the more detail that you can imagine something in the better your memory will be of it.

You can use imagination in several different ways to improve your memory, some of these include:

Expansion

This involves making your mental images as large as possible.

Contraction

This involves making your mental images as small as possible.

Absurdity

This involves making your mental images appear strange, unusual, ridiculous or funny.

The more absurd that you can make something, the better your memory will be of it. This is because the brain tends to pay attention to and remember things which are unusual more so than things which are ordinary.

3) Use Rhymes

singing

Putting information into a song or rhyme can make it fun and easy to remember.

Rhymes can be an excellent way to improve your memory because they are familiar to you, and when you repeat them you use your auditory sense.

This is important because the more senses that you use when trying to remember something, the better your memory will be of it.

Note: You can use a song that is familiar to you rather than a rhyme. Just sing back whatever it is that you are trying to remember in the style of the song.

4) Use Movement

feet walking

Move it into memory.

When you create mental images in your mind, try to get them moving because moving images tend to be better remembered than still images.

5) Use Your Senses

the five senses

The more senses you can activate, the more you will stimulate your brain and the easier it will be for you to remember what you’re trying to learn.

As stated earlier, the more senses that you can use the better you will be able to remember something. The reason for this is because by using different senses you are using more of your brain, which then makes a stronger impression on you.

The different senses that you can use to improve your memory are:

• Taste

• Touch

• Smell

• Sight

• Hearing

So for example, if you are going shopping and you need to remember to buy some apples, you could think about the color green, how an apple feels, its weight and how an apple tastes when you bite into it.

6) Be Sexy

shadow sex

Sex is a powerful way to create lasting memories!

Sex is one of the strongest human desires, and one that can easily be used to create mental images in your mind. If you can associate what you are trying to learn with sex, your ability to remember it will substantially improve.

7) Put Things in Sequence & Order

jumping sequence

It’s easy to remember things that make sense.

Whilst having a good imagination is critical to having a good memory, it’s not enough by itself.

The brain also needs things to be placed in a logical order or sequence. One way that you can do this is to categorize things into groups, or mentally arrange them so that one object sits in front of another or on top of another.

8) Use Numbers

numbers

Numbers can help to organize information into a logical sequence.

Numbers can be used as another method of ordering what you are trying to learn. For example, some people like to create a mental shopping list, where each item is numbered and appears in a sequential order.

Numbers can also be incorporated into a song or rhyme.

9) See in 3D

watching 3D movie

3D objects create a stronger impression than flat objects.

Try to see things in 3D to form a stronger impression of whatever it is that you are trying to remember. This can be done by spinning an object around in your head and then viewing it from different angles.

10) Memorize Key Words

Regardless of the type of memory system that you use, you should always have a key word that will help to remind you of the rest of the information you have learned.

random words

Memorizing one word can remind you of many others.

This word should be an image word, which means that it should create an image in your mind. This is important because the brain thinks best in images and not in words.

You can associate information with your image word by using any of the following methods:

• Crashing things together

• Sticking things together

• Placing things on top of each other

• Placing things underneath each other

• Placing things inside each other

• Substituting things for each other

• Placing things in new situations

However you choose to make your association with your key word, try to make it as simple and uncomplicated as you can as this will make it easier to recall later on.

Memorizing What You Read & Hear

One of the major benefits that can come from improving your memory, is the ability to remember more of what you read and what you hear.

This will obviously benefit virtually every aspect of your life, because reading and listening are the two main ways in which we acquire information from the outside world.

So if you want to learn how to do this more effectively, have a look at the following tips and advice provided below:

Start Guessing

Whenever you set out to read a book, an article or a document, try to make a guess from the title what it’s about. By guessing you actually prepare your brain for what you are about to read, almost like how an athlete warms themselves up before a big event.

woman reading book

Before you start reading a book, try to guess from the title and contents what it’s about.

The next step is to quickly skim over the rest of the text, paying particular attention to the subheadings. This entire process should take you no more than one or two minutes.

Once you have a general idea as to what the text is about, take a quick break of five or ten minutes. This break is essential because it allows your brain to process what you have just reviewed.

When you return to the text you will have a basic idea of what you are going to be reading about, and your brain will also be in a state that is prepared and ready to remember it.

Ask Questions

Most of the time, the reason why you are reading a particular text is because you want to get certain information out of it.

For example, you may have a set of questions that you need to answer, or you may just want the general gist of a text without going into too much detail.

asking question

Knowing what you want to learn from a particular text will make you more mindful of the information that’s useful to you.

It is very important that you have these reading goals in mind, because they will help to direct your brain to pay attention to the information which is relevant to your needs.

This helps to improve your memory, because the brain tends to remember the information which it sees as being the most important. So whenever possible, get into the habit of spending a few seconds before you start reading something to think about why you are reading it.

Think of Someone Else

An excellent way to improve your memory when reading or listening, is to think about how you would explain the subject material to someone else.

For example, while you are listening to a speech that someone is giving, think about what you would say if your friend asked you what that speech was about.

student thinking

If you had to explain the subject to someone else, what would you say? Teaching others is a powerful way to learn and remember something yourself.

This type of active thinking forces you to pay close attention to the speaker, and improves memory because you are summarizing large amounts of information into smaller and more manageable chunks.

To improve your memory even further, tell someone about what you have just read or heard. This can be beneficial because teaching other people is one of the best ways to learn and remember new information.

Relate to What You Already Know

The reason why people find certain types of information difficult to remember, is because they have no previous knowledge of that subject matter.

So when they try to remember it, the brain has nothing to relate it to which then makes the information seem alien to them.

mind map

The more you can link new ideas to old ideas, the stronger your memory will become of those things.

Having a good memory involves having the ability to relate new information to things that you already know. This is because your memory works in a similar fashion to how a spider diagram works, where each new idea links from or links to something else.

The more you can link what you are learning to what you already know, the easier it will be to remember and the better your memory will be of it overall.

Mentally Recall & Review

To help you remember more of what you learn, try to recall it in your head when you have some free time.

girl thinking on bed

Without using any aids, mentally review what you have learned in your head.

For example, when you are walking back from a lecture, try to think about the main points that have been discussed. Or, if you are revising at home, think about the main points in your head when you go to bed at night.

The more clearly that you can recall information in your head, the better you will be able to memorize it and remember it later on.

Reduce Distractions

The more things that your brain has to process, the less processing power it can devote to any one task.

focus

The more you are able to focus on one thing, the more brain power you will devote to that task.

In other words, the more distractions that you have around you, the harder it will be to focus on what you are reading/listening to and so the harder it will be to remember.

So to improve your memory, try to avoid being around anything which could distract you such as a TV, music or other people, when you are trying to learn something.

Get Emotional

Depending on the type of text you read, you are bound to feel certain types of emotions. Perhaps you feel happy, anxious or sad?

smiling face

Strong emotions create strong memories.

Whatever it is that you feel, pay attention to those feelings, because another way the brain remembers things is by the strength of emotional content.

This is why people tend to have vivid memories of times in their life when they were feeling very happy or very sad, because strong emotions automatically create strong memories.

Speak it Out Loud

speaking

Speaking something out loud uses more brain power than just saying it in your head.

A digital voice recorder can be a very useful device for improving one’s memory. The reason for this is two-fold:

First, speaking something out loud uses more brain power than just thinking about it in your head, and as we have already discussed, the more that you can involve your brain when learning something the better you are likely to learn it.

Second, recording important facts or figures allows you to easily review that information at a later date. This could even be done while you are doing something else, such as cleaning the house or walking to work.

Frequent Reviews

Another way that the brain remembers information, is by how often it is exposed to something. As the more often the brain comes across a piece of information, the deeper and longer lasting your memory will be of it.

Ideally, you should read something once, review it the next day, then in a weeks time, a months time and finally in three months time.

This amount of exposure will produce remarkable recall results and dramatically improve your memory of the information that you have learned.

woman reading

Although it’s good to regularly review your material, you don’t need to review everything.

However, it is important to remember that you don’t need to fully re-read the material each time, as you only need to review the key points.

One of the best ways to do this is by taking notes the first time you read something, or by speaking notes to yourself in a digital voice recorder. Those notes could then be what you use for your reviews.

An alternative technique involves highlighting important chunks of text as you read, and then reviewing only those sections when you re-read the material again.

If you find that you have forgotten something which you had not already highlighted, highlight it in a different color if it’s important to include it in your review.

How to Remember Names

One of the most common reasons why people become interested in improving their memory, is so that they will be better able to remember names and faces. This, after all, can be quite difficult to do, especially if you know a lot of people.

In the olden days, remembering names used to be much less of a problem, because before the invention of modern-day technology people had smaller social circles than they do today.

name tag

Being able to remember names is one of the most common reasons given for wanting to improve one’s memory.

Furthermore, people used to be named after their profession. So, if you were a baker, then you were called Mr. Baker. If you were a mason, you were called Mr. Mason. And if you were a blacksmith, you were called Mr. Blacksmith.

As generations passed, the family name became more and more removed from its original meaning, which then meant that people had to memorize different names and faces for an increasingly large number of people.

So if you find remembering names difficult, don’t worry! It can happen to anyone. Fortunately, there are some simple techniques that you can use to make the process of remembering a person’s name much easier, as we shall now discuss below:

Prepare First

crowd of people

Be positive and expect to remember the names of the people you meet.

Whenever you are going to be in a situation that will involve meeting new people, it is very important that you enter that situation with positive expectations. There is little use in trying to remember someone’s name if you start out with an expectation of failure.

Some people for example, will tell a person who they have just met that they will probably forget their name later. This attitude will not help you to remember names, so avoid it at all costs.

Look Closely

face

Looking closely at someone’s face can help you to associate it with their name.

Looking at a face closely allows you to associate a face with a name. So if you want to remember someone’s name, it helps to spend a few seconds scanning over their face.

To scan a face, start from the top of the face and work your way down to the bottom. As you do this, look for any special facial characteristics that person has.

By identifying the unique characteristics of a face, you will find it easier to associate it with a name and then recall that name at a later date when you see the face again.

Listen Carefully

listening can to ear

If you don’t listen you won’t hear anything.

Listen carefully when a person tells you their name. This may sound like an obvious suggestion, but you would be surprised at the number of people who seem distracted or lost in thought when a person tells them their name. Later, they then wonder why couldn’t remember it!

So really concentrate on the name that you hear, as this will improve your memory of it.

Repetition

Repetition is a very effective memory aid, as it helps to solidify new information into the brain. So if someone tells you their name, repeat it back to them with a slight upward inflection as if you were asking them a question.

repetition

Repeat someone’s name once or twice during your conversation with them.

This will also help to ensure that you are pronouncing their name correctly, which can be helpful when trying to remember foreign names. If you have difficulties with the pronunciation, ask how the name is spelled.

To further assist future recall of a name, ask the person what their name means or if there is any history behind it. Some people may not know this, but if you find someone who does know the meaning of their name, they will be more than happy to tell you which will then make remembering their name that much easier.

Finally, you can use the repetition of a person’s name during a conversation and when the conversation has ended.

Try to do this, because the more times that you are able to use a person’s name the first time you speak with them, the easier remembering their name will become.

Quick Review

diary

Some people keep a memory diary to help them remember names and faces.

Another very effective method for developing a good memory for names, is by reviewing what you have learned. This can be done in three ways as detailed below:

1) Mental

Mentally review the people who you have met throughout the day, and try to place a name to each of their faces.

2) Photographs

If you are ever at a party or an event where photographs have been taken, review those photos and try to remember people’s names.

3) Memory diary

Some people like to keep a memory diary where they note down important information that they would like to remember.

You don’t have to keep a complete diary, but it may help you to better remember things if you make a note of the characteristics a person has when you store information about them. For example, in your personal organizer or in your address book.

Don’t Rush

waiting in line

Don’t rush when trying to remember someone’s name, stay as long as it takes to learn at least one piece of information about them.

If you are always in a rush and unable to slow down, you are likely to find it very difficult to remember names because you are not giving your full attention to the process.

So try to slow down when meeting someone for the first time, and make sure that you spend enough time with them so that you can know at least one piece of information about them.

Use Mnemonics

bear face

Use the following steps to help improve your memory of names using mnemonics:

• Get a clear mental image of the person’s name.

• Mentally hear that name in your head.

• Closely examine the face of the person who you are looking at.

• Look for facial characteristics which are unique or unusual.

• Make a mental caricature of that face in your head. Exaggerate their unique or unusual characteristics, and make your mental image as vivid as possible.

• Try to somehow associate your caricature with the mental image name that you have just created. Could their name be linked to any part of their face?

For example, does Edward have bushy eyebrows? Does Lisa have luscious lips? Use your imagination and try to come up with something fun that you will easily remember.

How to Remember Your Speech

One of the most important concepts to remember when it comes to the memorization of speeches, is that not every word has to be memorized exactly.

Rather, it is more important that you have a general idea of what you will be talking about, and that you have done enough research beforehand to be able to elaborate on key points or topics.

Once you begin to approach speech writing in this manner, you will find that you become more relaxed and so will perform better because you are less stressed.

giving presentation

As long as you know your subject matter well, and have spent enough time preparing, you shouldn’t have any trouble when it comes to remembering your speech.

People who try to memorize their speech word for word do not appear relaxed when they are speaking. Instead, they look like they are trying hard not to forget what they have been committing to memory the past week or so.

As a result, the speaker doesn’t look at the audience very often and will rigidly recall word after word without any real meaning or conviction.

The key therefore, to giving a good speech, is not to try to remember every word that you want to say, but only to remember the main concepts or key words that you want to discuss.

This will make your speech appear much more natural, fluent and professional. So let’s now have a look at some of the ways in which this can be done.

Do the Research

Start by researching the general topic of your speech. This should include gathering ideas, evidence to back up your claims and any relevant quotations, references, stories or jokes that you would like to use.

man working on laptop

Researching your subject in detail will give you the confidence to talk about it without a script if needed.

The more information you can gather during this stage, the better you will be able to recall your speech later on.

This is partly because by doing research you will educate yourself more about the subject matter in question, which in turn, will then lead to greater levels of confidence when you actually make your speech.

If you do happen to forget something, you will also be able to improvise on the spot because you will know your subject well.

Create a Plan

Having a good memory depends on sequencing or structuring what you have learned.

So after you have completed your research, it is very important that you take the time to create a plan which brings together all the ideas and material that you have come up with so far.

man doing research

After the research phase is over, it’s time to start putting everything together in an ordered way.

Some people prefer doing this by using a list based system, whilst others prefer to use mind maps. Whatever system you use doesn’t matter, as long as you are comfortable with it and it makes sense to you.

One thing that you should try to incorporate into your plan however, are pictures relevant to each key theme or idea you will be talking about.

This is because the brain tends to think in pictures, so if you can associate a picture with a certain key word then you will find it much easier to recall later on.

Some people respond better to how a word sounds. So if you find that rhymes or word similarities assists your ability to recall information, then use sounds instead of pictures.

Use Keywords

Create a list of the main keywords/topic titles that you are going to talk about, and then write them down in the order that you plan on bringing them up during your presentation.

balancing book on head

Rather than trying to remember your speech word for word, just remember the keywords and your speech will come out in a much more natural way.

You can have this list written down on a piece of paper, or memorize it. The purpose of this list is to have something to refer to and to use as a framework to ensure that your speech has some structure to it. The list will also serve as a convenient memory aid.

Try to keep your list as brief as possible, made up only of keywords or pictures. Avoid the use of long sentences, because these will take longer to read/recall and will provide less room for improvisation and spontaneity.

Make a First Attempt

Now that you have created a rough outline of your speech, it’s time to practice. This can be done in two ways: either in your head or out loud.

It is recommended that you do both, but focus more of your efforts on speaking your speech out loud because this is how you will be presenting it.

The first time that you run through your speech, there are likely to be times when you are lost for words and need to refer back to your plan/notes. This is perfectly normal, and something which will occur to anyone who is presenting their speech for the first time.

man writing on board

Don’t be discouraged if you mess up your speech on your first practice attempt. That’s what practices are for, so that you can learn from your mistakes.

However, when you do look at your plan, try to use the main keywords or topic titles you created to jog your memory, rather than just reading what you have written word for word. Your aim should be to recite as much of your speech as you can on your own, and refer to your plan only when you get stuck.

Once you have finished your first run, you will have a much clearer idea as to the structure of your speech. What usually happens next, is that you will come up with many new ideas to talk about, and may even modify your original plan somewhat.

So it is always good practice to review your plan in its entirety after your first attempt at speaking your speech out loud.

Practice Makes Perfect

Keep practicing your speech over and over again. The more you do so, the better your memory will be of it later on. Each time you practice, try to rely less and less on your physical notes and use your mental notes instead.

practice

The more you practice your speech the better you will become at it.

If you find that you are having trouble with the mental recall of your key topics, then it is likely that you have not committed them to memory properly.

In this case, go back to your main topics and come up with new ways to make the images or sounds that you associated with them more vivid. Can you make them more colorful? More unusual? Larger? Smaller? Funny? Strange?

Really focus on remembering your key words and the order in which you want them to appear, because providing you know your subject well, each of your key words will automatically jog your memory of more numerous and detailed information.

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