For me, the conference is all about meeting new people. I love to get to know people and always recognize faces, being a visual learner, but often the names are lost to me. Several years ago, I picked up a tatty book at a yard sale on how to improve your memory and zeroed in on the chapter on remembering people’s names. It always means a lot to me when people remember my name and I know it means a lot to others too, so I was determined to get better at remembering.
Here are some tips:
- When you meet someone and they tell you their name, repeat it aloud. Do this again, if you can, working it naturally into the conversation, “So, Jenny, what do you write?” Saying the name cements it into your brain and helps you remember it.
- Look at nametags. I love nametags because if I see the name written next to the person’s face, I can often recall it more easily when I see the face without the nametag. This only works if you’re a visual learner, of course, but many of us are. If you can’t see the person’s nametag, as them to show it to you. Most people will not mind and will be pleased that you are interested in their name.
- Comment on the person’s name, or ask for details, such as, “Is that Amy with a ‘y’ or an ‘ie’?” Unusual names my have interesting meanings or some sort of heritage or family story. The more you talk about the name while looking at the person, the more that name is cemented in your brain. If you can make a connection in your own mind, do it. When I met Kim Blum Hyclak, she reminded me of a Kim I knew in high school and it helped me remember her name.
- Connect the name with a physical feature. For example, Kim has “kurly” hair and she’s very bouncy, like her curls and just like my other Kim. I am Beth Browne and I have brown eyes. I used to have brown hair too, but it’s all gray now!
- Don’t be afraid to admit you’ve forgotten someone’s name. Just say, “Please, tell me your name again.” Far from being offended, that person will appreciate your interest and may even confess they’ve forgotten yours too!
Consider writing people’s names down, either at the time you meet them, or afterwards. Sometimes the physical act of writing something down helps you remember it. My dad used to carry a small notebook and would write down people’s names when he met them, checking the spelling and often asking about the origin of a last name. He never forgot names. And everybody loved him.
Since I started using these techniques, I’ve had much better success at remembering people’s names. I do sometimes still fail to remember, and in one case it’s gotten to be a joke between me and the person, whose name I can finally remember, including the spelling. (It’s Alissa, with an i.) Believe it or not, she’s always happy to see me as we share a laugh over my faulty memory.
Reply with your own funny name story or add more tips!