Just the other day I was at a conference where I was the keynote speaker. Before my program, I met 20 or so people who were going to be watching my program. Throughout my speech I continued to refer back to the attendees that I had met at the beginning, using their first names.
After my speech, a gentleman came up to me and asked me how I was able to recall all of those people’s names. I shared with him a technique that I studied years ago and I would also like to share it with you. This will make it much more easy for you to remember names in the future. I consider remembering names to be one of the most important skills that we can learn–when we remember people’s names they are instantly appreciative. Because it’s such a rare moment to have a stranger actually remember our name you can use this skill to stand out easily as a leader.
Remembering names is actually very simple. I’m going to share with you a three-step process that you can use right away to begin remembering all the names of the people that you meet:
1. Focus on and Take Pride in Remembering Names
The most important aspect of remembering names is that you put in effort. Most people are careless when it comes to remembering names. We can all relate to the experience of meeting a new face, asking his name and then instantly forgetting. Just as problematic, many of us are quick to say how terrible we are at remembering names. If you go around saying that you are terrible at remembering names, of course you’re going to be bad at remembering names. It’s time to start taking pride in remembering people’s names.
2. Start Visualizing
Here is an example of what I do when someone shares his name with me:
If I meet a person with a common name, for example, “Ryan” I instantly think of a “Ryan” that I know personally. I then imagine the following scene: the Ryan that I know well dancing on top of the head of this new Ryan. It sounds like a ridiculous visualization but what it does is makes the name Ryan something that I can see. Now I am very unlikely to forget this ‘new’ Ryan because I have associated him with the Ryan that I know well, who I have no trouble remembering the name of. On the other hand, there are some names that we’re unfamiliar with. For example, just yesterday I met a woman named Shakana. Since I don’t know another Shakana, I must use a different visualization technique. In this situation, I break her name down into parts. Here is how it works. When I think of her name I see two things, “Shaq” or Shaquille O’Neal and “Anna”. Now I just put the two together Shaq and Anna and you get Shakana. What I will visualize is Shaquille O’Neal picking up my mother (her name is Anna).
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Now that you have your new technique it’s time to go out and use it. At first, this is going to be difficult to use in social situations, however after practice it will become much easier for you to use. What I have found is that you need to use this technique at least 20 times right away in order for you to become somewhat proficient at it. The more you use it, the better you will get.
So what are you waiting for? Go out and start remembering names right now. I have seen people, using this exact same technique, remember 50 names instantly. The applications are endless, so start taking pride in your ability to remember names and experience how people will instantly see you in a different way.
Written by Marc Wayshak, author of Game Plan Selling and sales trainer in Boston