People with a good memory for names are not mental wizards, but they do devote more mental energy to remembering them than those of us who suffer temporary amnesia at the sight of Bill-Phil-or-was-it-Will. The cure for name amnesia is a fool proof, easy-to-apply memory strategy that you won’t forget to use. Here is one you’ll remember by N-A-M-E.
In the N-A-M-E technique, each letter of the word Name stands for an important step in remembering who you just met.
Name grabber. After you meet, say the person’s name aloud (“Nice to meet you, Sam”) and then to yourself. If you aren’t sure, now is the time to ask for clarification (“Do you go by Sam or Samuel?”).
Attend and associate. The most critical phase! Devote five to ten seconds to focusing internally on the name and associating it with an image that the name reminds you of. For Sam, your association could be:
Same name as Mona’s husband (picture him). Picture your cousin Sam from Portland. Picture America’s Uncle Sam.
Allow the association to be silly, outrageous, insulting, or whatever comes to mind. What matters is that it is meaningful and memorable to you. After the meeting, write down the name and your association.
Memory storage. Concentrate on your image for five seconds, seeing Uncle Sam or whatever you chose paired with the new person’s face. In this way when you see what’s-his-name again at the next holiday party, Uncle Sam and this person’s name will pop into your mind.
Two stockbrokers who were often stumped when it came to remembering clients’ names used this technique to recall the names of thirty-five strangers’ faces in a yearbook within one hour of learning the technique. Their enormous memory storage capacity shocked them because the day before they had a hard time remembering the names of just three clients right in front of them.
Exercise. Don’t be lazy. To practice, try using the N-A-M-E technique in at least one business or social situation a day. For fun, try to memorize the names of characters on TV shows (for example, the first and last names of every character on Game of Thrones) or names in the news (such as all the current cabinet members).