How to remember namesThere’s a sneaky people skill most people forget — remembering someone’s name! Is it often a problem where you can’t remember names? You are not alone! I am going to show you how to always remember a name.

Researchers from Emory University wanted to improve people’s ability to remember names over three training sessions. In the first session, each participant took a face recall test to establish their baseline ability. In the following sessions, each participant was taught a memory strategy.

After only a month, the participants significantly improved their recall ability, some by up to 69 percent!

The Name Association Trick

Here’s what they learned. Attach a visual cue to a unique facial or body feature. This memory strategy comes from the EON-Mem (Ecologically Oriented Neurorehabilitation of Memory) program, which is used to help patients with neurological conditions quickly improve memory and daily functioning.

Here is an example: This is my friend, Lacy. If I met her at a party, I would think her hair looks just like an Ace with the pointed A top. Ace = L-ACE-y

lacy kirkland

Let’s look at a few other examples using common facial and body features. We’ll play a game where I give you a name and a picture and you try to come up with an identifier yourself. Then I can give you some ideas.

Hair Identifiers

This is Avery. If you met him at a networking event, how would you remember his name?

How to Remember Names

I’d probably notice his unique hairstyle. It looks like a wave. Wave = AVE-ry.

This is Coltun. How would you remember his name?

How to Remember Names

We can remember his name by his bun. Bun = Colt-UN.

This is Ingrid. How would you remember her name?

How to Remember Names

I can remember her name by her bangs, otherwise known as fringe. Just swap a soft “g” for a hard “g” sound. Fringe = ING-rid.

This is Monica. How would you remember her name?

How to Remember Names

Her hair is long and blond, so we can use the “on” sound from these descriptors to remember her name. Blond = M-ON-ica. Long = M-ON-ica.

Facial Identifiers

This is Eric. How would you remember his name?

How to Remember Names

I can remember his name by his beard. Beard rhymes with “ear.” Ear = EAR-ic.

This is Ash. How would you remember his name?

How to Remember Names

You can remember his name by his facial hair or mustache. Mustache = ASH.

This is Shana. How would you remember her name?

How to Remember Names

You notice she blushes when talking about herself or when she’s a little nervous. Blush = SH-ana.

This is Marilee. How would you remember her name?

How to Remember Names

One way to remember her name is with her big, beautiful smile or teeth with the double “e” sound. Teeth = Mari-LEE.

Accessory Identifiers

This is Douglass. How would you remember his name?

How to Remember Names

We can remember his name by his glasses. Glasses = Dou-GLASS.

This is Noelle. How would you remember her name?

How to Remember Names

One way you could remember her name is by her nose rings. Nose = NO-elle.

Body Identifiers

This is Alden. How would you remember his name?

How to Remember Names

When you first meet him, you notice he’s towering over you and incredibly tall. Tall = AL-den.

This is Courtney. How would you remember her name?

How to Remember Names

You notice she’s shorter than you, so you can remember her name with Short = C-OURT-ney.

Remember: the key to remembering names is to get creative. You can use these hair identifiers, facial cues and visual tricks along with anything else you can think of. Whatever pops into your head as a reminder…use it!

Getting ready for an event where you will have to remember a lot of names? Use our other guides as well:

About Vanessa Van Edwards

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Lead Investigator, Science of People

I'm the author of the national bestselling book Captivate, creator of People School, and behavioral investigator.

I’ve always wanted to know how people work, and that’s what Science of People is about. What drives our behavior? Why do people act the way they do? And most importantly, can you predict and change behavior to be more successful? I think the answer is yes. More about Vanessa.

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