How To Remember Names

There are few things more frustrating (and potentially embarrassing) than forgetting someone’s name. For many it’s a constant problem. This can be a big issue for business networking, befriending your peers, or simply showing respect for people you see on a normal basis.

You can do something about it. You can learn how to remember names in a surprising amount of time. It just takes commitment to following through both at the point of introduction and immediately afterwards.

Own it in the introduction

Obviously this is where names are given, but it’s also the exact moment when the names are lost. Seriously, how often do you hear someone’s name then forget it seconds later? Too often. You need to make a conscious effort to own names the first time they are given to you.

  • The minute a person’s name is given, repeat it in your mind five times. This quick repetition exercise makes you stop and focus on the name and the person you’ve just met.
  • Use the name immediately in the next sentence. This could be your introduction back, such as “Hi Steven, I’m Mark.” Or it could be a continuing of the conversation, such as “As we were discussing, Steven…” By doing so, you are getting the name into your vocabulary immediately.
  • Ask an honest question (or make a polite statement) about the name. By doing so, you’re getting more opportunity to hear the name out loud. If it’s a tricky name, ask for its spelling. If it’s a unique name, politely ask about its origins. Make sure you’re not rude about it, as some people can be sensitive about unique names. If it’s a standard name, it’s a little tougher, but you can tie it in to some aspect of your life and make mention of it. Maybe you’ve got many colleagues that share the name, or your best friend from school has a similar name.

See the person: Build an impression

Often we talk without seeing. We don’t spend the time to really get a physical impression of the person who’s next to us. It’s especially true in quick meetings, classrooms, and networking events. It makes remembering names a challenge–really it makes it tougher to remember the person at all.

So during the conversation, spend time looking at the person (or people) you are talking to. Build strong impressions so that the people and the names have much better chances of sticking with you.

Use the name a few times naturally in conversation

Now that you’ve established the name during the introduction, you’ve got to get it into your regular usage. If you want frictionless recall of this name later on, you need to build up your muscle memory of using it. Pepper it into conversation when you can. Don’t force it–you don’t want it to appear unnatural as that can kill the rapport you’ve been building, but you must get used to saying it and seeing the face (and hearing the voice) of the person it belongs to.

Write the person’s name into your contact or address book as soon as possible

People often forget about the power of writing (or typing) things down. It can really help you own the name as you’re again having to repeat it, and you’re using new muscles and senses in the process. Your body is taking an action on the name, not just your brain. That helps things stick.

Be sure to also write down the context in which you met this person. Was it at a convention? At school? During work? Where exactly did you meet? Were there other specific things that make it stand out? These notes will give you much-needed hints later on, especially if it’s not someone you see often. It’s good to have a relationship with the name to jumpstart the memory.

Build associations between the name and the person

Or tie a relationship of your own with the name to the person. Either will help you remember the name. Even if it’s a loose association or relationship, the act of trying to create one actually helps solidify the name in your head, so give it a go!

Maybe the name has an obvious real word pairing. Associate that real word somehow with the physicality of the person (Mrs. Price likes pricy clothes.) Perhaps you had a best friend from grade school with the same name. You could even tie in rhyming techniques and your initial reactions to the person (Alice has no malice.) Again, even a loose pairing and the act of trying to build an association or relationship will help you own the name.

Memorize Lines Fast With These Top iPhone Script Memorizing Apps

Actors, listen up. If you own an iPhone or an iPad and memorizing lines is always trouble, you owe it to yourself to check out these apps below. 

How to memorize lines (as mentioned in the article here by the same name) is one of the toughest jobs of being an actor. This goes for professionals to amateurs. The pain is the same. It takes dedication, consistency, and lots of repetition to memorize lines fast. Whatever tools you can find to help you are well worth your time – and, in the case of iOS apps – the few dollars they will cost.

Here’s a collection of five of the top iPhone script memorizing apps currently available. They’ll definitely help you memorize lines fast. Each has its strengths, and they range from free (with in app purchases) to $19.99. More than half are less than $3, so take a look. They can save you a lot of sanity and get you off-book in no time.

Script Reader Pro ($2.99)

Scene Study $1.99

Rehearsal 2 ($19.99)

My Lines ($9.99)

Scene Partner (Free, with In App Purchases)

Remember also to read the article here on how to memorize lines. It will give you excellent tips on how to go about it with yourself and  even your entire cast!

Memorizing Pi

Oh the dreaded 3.141592653589793238462643!

If you are dead set on memorizing Pi, we’re here to help. Yes, it’s a long number, but you can do it with a little know how and a bit of repetition. Ok, maybe a lot of repetition, but at the end you’ll be able to ramble off those numbers like a pro.

Defining Pi

You’re here to memorize the numbers, but it’s always good to know what you are memorizing. In short, Pi is simply a ratio. It’s the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a perfect circle. If you want to get into the dirty thick of the science, check out this Wikipedia page on Pi. Otherwise let’s get onto memorizing!

Memorizing Pi

Forget what you learned under Defining Pi.

When it comes down to memorizing Pi, it all starts with forgetting the definition. Yes, I said it was good to know, but for now stop looking at it as some ratio, and simply look at it as a random set of numbers that you must make your own.

Think of memorizing numbers in sets of three
Any long piece of daunting information, whether a number or a paragraph, will freeze you up when you look at it in its whole. Stop, take a breath, and break the number down into simpler sets.




And so on. These smaller sets are long enough to get movement, but not too long to feel like a deer in the headlights. Then begin repeating!

Own each set on its own and as part of the strand from the last number
What does this mean? Simply, get 3.14 down (that’s the easy one). Then repeat 159 until you feel confident with the number. THEN attach it to the number set that came before it. Essentially you are chaining your memorization bit by bit. As in this repeating segment:

3.14, 3.14, 3.14, 3.14

159, 159, 159, 159

3.14159, 3.14159, 3.14159

265, 265, 265, 265

3.14159265, 3.14159265, 3.14159265

And so on.

It may take more than three or four repetitions to get each new segment totally down, but this chaining process does work.

If you mess up during the chaining, stop and start again from the beginning

This is the frustrating part for many people. DON’T just pick up from where you left off. If you do you may create a memorization block right at that point. Instead start from the first 3.14 again and begin chaining each series of three one by one until you have it down perfect.

You’ll find through chaining that memorizing Pi or any longer numerical string is very possible in a surprising  amount of time! Though don’t shy away from other memorization techniques if this one is not working for you. Remember, not every technique works for every person, so be sure to try new techniques when you are in need.

How To Remember The Planets

Memorizing the planets is one of the first memorizing goals faced in our lives. It’s easy to do by creating something called an acrostic. Acrostics are simply sentences where the first letter of each word clues you into what you are trying to remember. So for the planets, create a sentence that uses the first letter of each planet name and then memorize the simple sentence.

REMEMBER: Pluto is no longer designated as a planet (it’s now a dwarf planet), so don’t add it to your acrostic.


So your sentence could be a widely used one like:

MVery Excellent Mother Just Served UNachos

Or you can make something up that is personal to you:

My Valuable Earth May Just Save Us Now

In both cases, you’ve now got that simple sentence to memorize that cues you in to the order of the planets. Acrostics are a big help for remembering any type of list, so try it out for other things, beyond the planets, too.