Entertaining Memory Techniques Improve Recall of Names, Lists

Posted on in Service Solutions

By Dorothy de Souza Guedes, VGM Education

Need to remember new client Carol? Imagine Carol as a carrot. Struggling to recall a lengthy shopping list? Memorize a room, then visualize placing items on the furniture. The sillier the image, the easier to remember: picture the milk splashing onto the sofa, for example.

It may seem ridiculous, but Bob Gray insists this memory technique works not only for shopping lists but any information we need to remember. That’s because all memory is based on association, he explained during his keynote presentation at Heartland Conference 2016.

Memory systems allow us to turn the not-so-convenient bits of information into convenient chunks waiting for an associated key to open it, Gray said. We can remember anything as long as it’s linked, joined or associated with something we already know.

“The reason I know this works is because I live this,” Gray said.

Creating Chains

His association techniques create a useful learning aid for memorizing anything, including customer names or product information.

“When they’re selling in front of prospective clients, they don’t have to say, ‘Let me look it up.’ It’s added credibility,” said Gray.

His memory technique can be used to remember customers who we unexpectedly run into. Within a chain of information about the client, we can create additional chains, such as the names of their spouse and children, Gray said.

At a conference at which we’re meeting a lot of people, 80 percent of people believe they will remember names but only about 20 percent do, he said. The trick to remembering each person is to recall a piece of essential information about them, he said. First, focus and listen. “Stop thinking about yourself,” Gray said. Spell their name in your head, then use the name in conversation and when leaving the encounter. It also helps to turn the name into something visual. That’s how Carol becomes carrot.

Putting Tips into Action

Lori Brooks, marketing communications for EZ-ACCESS, attended Gray’s talk. She said his tips make sense and are doable. Brooks knows to pay attention to someone when she’s introduced: to remember names, she makes sure to look at the person when saying their name.

“I think if we just be conscious of it, it will work,” Brooks.

David Heinz, director of sales Home Health Care EZ-ACCESS, said he totally gets what Gray explained. He’s going to test memorizing a room and using that visualization the next time he goes shopping. “Because that’s how I associate things,” Heinz said.

Beyond practical tips for memorization, Gray’s ability to accurately name capital cities and population numbers from obscure countries and write upside down and backward entertained the packed crowd gathered to kick off the first full day of Heartland.

Key: Using Both Sides of Our Brains

He demonstrated the association memory technique with a visual story about the sun outside the conference room, with a thermometer next to it, a tennis player coming out of the bathroom, a fireball landing in a backyard, there’s a giant candy bar, then a jeep arrives with the sun and a dog. What was the story really about? Visualizing the planets in order from the sun: Mercury (thermometer), Venus (tennis player Venus Williams), Earth (backyard), Mars (Mars candy bar), Saturn (S), Uranus (U), Neptune (N) and Pluto (cartoon dog).

Any list can be memorized in a similar way. The length is irrelevant; what’s relevant is the association, Gray said. Our brains have all the information we’ve ever accumulated. The key to this is using both sides of the brain: the right, creative side to assign an image, which causes the left, logical side to recall the information.

And who in any industry hasn’t benefited from better recall? “You’re never too old to take on a new skill set,” Gray said.

To learn more

Bob Gray offers half- or full-day workshops and one-on-one memory training. His Basic Business Memory program is available in a DVD and workbook package, and he offers a new mobile app, MemoryEdge, for remembering names.