Sometimes it seems we go "brain dead" at the most critical moments. We meet someone for a second time and go blank on their name. We have to make a presentation and our memory leaves us embarrassed. It does not have to be that way.
Here are my top tricks to get you on the path to becoming a master of memory:
1. Use humor or exaggeration.
Information stays in memory longer if it is related to something novel and interesting. Make up something funny or exaggerated that ties into what needs to be memorized.
If you're in a situation where something is going on that you want to remember, focus and quietly tell yourself you will remember it. It takes eight seconds to process a piece of information and store that information in your brain. So, when you meet someone new, repeat their name silently in your mind several times while studying their face.
You can even ask them to repeat their name and then repeat it back to them: "I'm sorry, what is your name again?" Then, repeat it back as a question: "Bob Jones? Nice to meet you Bob."
3. Think movies.
Let's say you acquire new information from a documentary film. You were interested in the topic. Interest and focus are very important to committing something to memory. Then you consolidated it with similar memories. For example, you knew some basic information about the topic at hand and the documentary provided accentuating pieces of knowledge. You let those fall into place and connect with what you already knew about the topic. Then comes retrieval, which is self explanatory and where tips for improving your memory pay off.
4. Memory can be short-term or long-term.
In short-term memory, your mind stores information for a few seconds or a few minutes: the time it takes you to dial a phone number you just looked up or to compare the prices of several items in a store. Such memory is fragile, and it's meant to be. Your brain would soon read "disk full" if you retained every phone number you called, every dish you ordered in a restaurant, and the subject of every ad you watched on TV. Your brain is also meant to hold an average of seven items, which is why you can usually remember a new phone number for a few minutes but need your credit card in front of you when you're buying something online.
Long-term memory involves the information you make an effort (conscious or unconscious) to retain because:
..... it's personally meaningful to you (for example, data about family and friends)
..... you need it (such as job procedures or material you're studying for a test)
..... it made an emotional impression (a movie that had you riveted, the first time you ever caught a fish, the day your uncle died).
Some information that you store in long-term memory requires a conscious effort to recall: episodic memories, which are personal memories about experiences you've had at specific times; and semantic memories (factual data not bound to time or place), which can be everything from the names of the planets to the color of your child's hair. Another type of long-term memory is procedural memory, which involves skills and routines you perform so often that they don't require conscious recall.
5. Tell yourself out loud that you need to do things. Also, verbalize things as you do them.
These can be mundane things. For instance, you can say out loud when you turn off the oven, lock the door or shut the window. This will help to train your brain to focus when you need to remember important things later.
6. After being introduced to someone try using their name several times in conversation.
7. Work new information into your conversation with others. Share new facts with others. All of these things will help you in your recall.
8. Do what you can to relieve stress.
Stress makes it hard to concentrate, and unrelieved, long-term stress can actually damage your hippocampus, a part of your brain essential for processing information that goes into your memory. Yoga and meditation are great tools for relieving stress.
9. Finally, remember this: The key to encoding information into your memory is concentration. Unless you focus on information intently, it goes "in one ear and out the other."
These 9 tips will get you on the right track toward dominating your memory to become more popular and successful.
About the Author: Jim DeSantis is an award winning broadcast journalist who provides a new ebook with more great tips to develop your memory. "Memory Master" - here!