By Douglas Jobes
It is very common to have trouble remembering names. Fortunately, there is a relatively easy method you can use to overcome this problem.
In this article, I will explain the "secret" Name-Face method used by memory performers world-wide. If you practice the Name-Face method, you can more easily remember the names of people you meet at work, school, parties, church, or any other social or business gathering. And once you get the method down, it is actually quite fun and easy to use.
The Name-Face Method for remembering a person's name includes 5 simple steps. Here they are:
1. Get the name.
2. Make the name concrete.
3. Find a distinctive feature on their face.
4. Make a mental picture connecting the name with the face.
5. Review the association.
Every memory performer uses these basic steps. You can, too! The following explains how.
Step 1: Get the Name
During introductions, we often simply fail to hear the other person's name. This is a failure of attention on our part.
When being introduced to a new person, we are often more concerned about saying our own name, or shaking hands, or what the other person looks like (or maybe even how we look). To have any chance of remembering names, you obviously must hear and understand the person's name when they say it.
This takes conscious effort and may require some practice. If you don't hear the name the first time, don't be embarrassed to ask the person to repeat it. That just proves you really are interested in knowing their name. And a person's own name is the sweetest set of words in the English language - to them. Then repeat the name back to the person to make sure you've gotten it right.
Once you are sure you've got the name, move immediately to Step 2.
Step 2: Make the Name Concrete
Making the name concrete means making it memorable (for you). For some names this will be very easy.
For example, last names like Baker, Brown, or Greenfield already have concrete meanings. For many other names, though, you will need to make "substitute" words based on the sound of the name. For example, the sound of the name "Purpera" might make you think of the phrase "pour pears" (because it sounds like that). Or Janovsky may sound to you like "jump off ski".
Thinking of substitute words will seem unnatural at first, but you will find with a little practice that it becomes very easy, quick, and even fun. A great way to practice this step is to go through names in your local telephone book and think up substitute words for the names.
So at this point, you've got the name and you have given the name a concrete meaning if it doesn't already have one (remember, "pour pears" for Purpera). Note that the substitute words do not have to be an exact translation of the person's name. These words are simply going to act as a "cue" to help you recall the person's name the next time you meet them.
Step 3: Find a Face Feature
What you are going to do in the next couple of steps it tie the meaning of the name to the person themself - in particular, to a memorable part of their face.
So now study the person's face closely and quicky decide which feature stands out the most. What did you notice first? Thie bushy eyebrows, big ears, or thick lower lip? Anything about their face that is memorable will work. But don't pick something changeable like their hairstyle or their smile that might be different the next time you meet them!
After you've decided on the person's prominent feature, move on to the next step.
Step 4: Associate the Name and Face
Here's where you connect the person and their name in your memory.
Take the meaning of the name which you determined in Step 2 and think of a vivid, visual picture in your mind associating it with the facial feature you noticed in Step 3. For example, let's say Mr. Purpera has a large, bulbous nose. Then, simply imagine hundreds of pears pouring out of that nose. Yes, it's a silly picture - but that makes it more memorable, too.
Visualize this in as much detail as possible. See the pears, yellow or green with brown spots just flowing from his bulbous nose.
Because most people's visual memory is stronger than their verbal memory, if you have pictured the nose-pear image clearly enough it will immediately pop into your mind when you see that person. (Even though many people have bulbous noses, you will easily recognize his face overall, which will provide the connection.) You will see pears pouring from his nose. Remembering and seeing "pour pears" should be a sufficient memory cue to jog your memory for his real name, "Purpera".
The next and final step for remembering names is important for long-term retention of the name.
Step 5: Review the Association
Information that is not used tends to fade from memory. To counteract this and have much better luck remembering people's names, review the name periodically.
The most important time for review is immediately after being presented with the information. The reason is that most forgetting occurs within the first few seconds or minutes.
So right after meeting the new person and forming a name-face association (Steps 1-4), review the association and the image in your mind. Repeat again after one minute, then after 15-20 minutes. Spacing out the review intervals works best. The next day, see if you can recall the names of the people you met the day before.
In addition, try to say the person's name out loud at least three times during your conversation. First, when you are being introduced ("Nice to meet you, Mr. Purpera!") Then, at some point in the middle of the conversation, again ("That's a very good point, Mr. Purpera.") Finally, at the end of the conversation ("Mr. Purpera, it was very nice to have met you.")
Obviously you don't want to overdo it, but you get the idea!
And finally, write the person's name down later if you can. That way, if you do forget their name, you can look it up in your address book or notebook. Seeing the name written should allow you to easily recall the name-face association and allow you to picture their face in your mind.
The Name-Face method for remembering names really does work (that's why memory performers use it), but only if you practice it. This method is a skill, and like any other skill, you must practice to get really good at it.
People with normal memories can and do use the Name-Face method very successfully. A strong natural memory is not required. Good luck, and start amazing the people you meet by consistently remembering their names!
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