Forgetting someone’s name is the worst. (I’m Nicole, by the way.) Often, you’ll find yourself introduced to a new person and get immediately distracted; before they even start talking you’ve already forgotten their name. Now, you have to spend the next five minutes of their life story (“I just moved here from Kansas, I’m so excited to start medical school, I already memorized First Aid!”) ignoring them while you desperately try to recall their name. (Nicole who?!)
This is an easily avoidable situation if you know the right tricks. Improving your memory is simple when you know what to do, and Picmonic just happens to be experts when it comes to memory tricks and tips. So here are 5 tricks to teach you how to remember names starting with the next person you meet.
Write it down. Jot down a note ASAP.
As soon as you get to pen and paper, write down the person’s name and a few notes about them. Something notable about his or her appearance, personality, how you met or who you both know. Just the simple act of note taking can help you store something longer.
Repetition. Repeat after me.
Say their name back to them, and repeat it. “Hey Mike, nice to meet you Mike Mike Mike.” Okay, not like that, but try to use their name throughout your conversation to reinforce it. Repeating the information will help you encode it in your memory.
Give their name context. Tell a story in your head using the person’s name.
Sometimes it helps to remember more about people than just their names. Instead of focusing on Liam, try to remember Liam from lunch on Tuesday, who ordered the turkey sandwich. Mia who moved here from Kansas to start med school.
Word play. Use mnemonic devices and alliteration to create plays-on-words with their first name.
You’ll have to be careful not to smirk, because the best way to create a mnemonic device with a person’s name is to quickly generate the most ridiculous wordplay you can. For example, if you just met Jackson, you can remember him as Jackson Jack-o-lantern—since his head vaguely resembles a pumpkin (and he’s a ginger). Or if you run into Isabella, you can quickly remember your hilarious one-line joke: Is-a-bella ringing?!
You can take it one step further by trying to use alliteration or rhyming with something relevant to the person. Sophie from soccer or Dale from sales.
Visual conversion. Turn someone’s name into a picture.
This takes wordplay to another level. Try not only to create a quick mnemonic for the person’s name, but generate an image that you can immediately recall the next time you see them. Imagine Elizabeth as Queen Elizabeth, prancing around school with a large pompous hat and knighting people before class. Or visualize Mason shrunk down and trapped inside a mason jar with holes poked in the top so he can breathe. (Also, try not to laugh when you conjure up these handy pictures.)