There’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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best selling author & founder at Science of People. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People has been translated into more than 16 languages. As a recovering awkward person, Vanessa helps millions find their inner charisma. She regularly leads innovative corporate workshops and helps thousands of individual professionals in her online program People School. Vanessa works with entrepreneurs, growing businesses, and trillion dollar companies; and has been featured on CNN, BBC, CBS, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine, USA Today, the Today Show and many more.

3 replies on “How to Remember Names with a Simple Trick that ALWAYS Works”

  1. Albert Brighten

    I used this trick with a woman named Mary Jane, the wife of a friend. I would see her at various affairs always not remembering her name and waiting for someone else to possible address her so that I would have to ask her name again. Then one time at a party I noticed that she wore several chains around her neck and I came up with the mnemonic, “Many Chains”, which sounds just like ‘Mary Jane’! This worked perfectly…though I did address her as Many Chains a few times as well. 😄 But I don’t think she noticed.

  2. Kandi Woodrum

    Ok, I can see where this technique could help someone at a conference or party, but I don’t think it would be helpful long term. People change hairstyles all the time. People with long hair get it cut short, men shave or grow beards and mustaches. I want to learn names so that when I see that person from the party a couple of months later in a different environment that I remember their name even if they look different.

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