A guest blog for you this week. Oftentimes clients will ask me how to remember names with all the people I meet. Love this list of memorization techniques from a client. See which ones work for you, or let me know your own tips!
– Coach Wolfgang

It seems to happen to me at every networking event or speaking opportunity. Someone introduces themselves to me, I shake their hand, introduce myself, then completely blank on what name the person said! I feel embarrassed when I have to ask them to repeat their name a few minutes later. It can be awkward!

So here’s a list of tips for remembering people by name when you don’t have the ability to write it down. Practice these and find a few that you like. Let me know in the comments below if you find one that is particularly effective or if you have your own technique!
memorization techniques for how to remember names

  • Read the name on the business card… a few times.
  • Ask the person a few questions, addressing the person by name when you ask.
  • Look at the person in the face and say their name 4 times – to yourself – slowly and deliberately.
  • If you are introduced to a number of people in a group, put their names in sequence of where they are standing, left to right. Repeat the string of their names 4 times. As you say the string of names, focus on each person and associate the name with a face.
  • Tell a descriptive story about the person using his/her name.
  • Before you start speaking to the person, confirm their name. For example, “It was Ed, right?” It’s okay if you have the name wrong – you just learned it!
  • When you leave the person’s presence, say goodbye using their name. For example, “It was a pleasure meeting you, Ed.”
  • Associate the person’s name with an object you are very familiar with. For example, if you meet a guy named “Chip”, think of chocolate chips and associate that image with the person’s face.
  • Apologize but tell the person that you have blanked on their name and ask them to repeat it. For example, “Forgive me but I’m blanking on your name even though you just gave it to me.”

If some of these techniques make you feel uncomfortable, that’s okay. I want you to consider a few things:

  1. The person you just met has ALSO probably just forgotten your name. So seek to help the person remember your name without bringing on some shame or guilt.
  2. You were just given the person’s name. You may have met a number of new people as well. Don’t be too hard on yourself to remember it all.
  3. There’s no harm in admitting that you’ve forgotten and asking for a person’s name again. It is best to do this sooner than later. You should only do this once so make sure you are paying attention.

These techniques all require a fundamental shift in how you approach meeting people while job hunting: direct 100% of your focus on listening for the person’s name and then immediately using one of the techniques above to place it firmly in your memory. Let me repeat that, when you are being introduced to someone new, FOCUS ALL OF YOUR ATTENTION ON RETAINING THE PERSON’S NAME. You are a smart person but during parties and networking events, for example, you have a lot of things vying for your attention. You forget names because you simply put your focus elsewhere before you put the name into your memory. Narrow your focus and good things will follow!