Ever struggle to remember a past client’s name or the precise details of your listings? For anyone who’s had a memory blip, there’s good news — you can train your brain to recall even the most miniscule details, says author Gini Graham Scott. In 30 Days to a More Powerful Memory (AMACOM, 2007), Scott reveals interesting new findings from brain researchers and psychologists. After all, knowing more about how your brain works helps you squeeze more information in (and out) of it. The best challenge: Trying to recall her many clever systems after reading the 266-page book.
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From the Book: 5 Ways to Get More from Your Memory
Before you wake up tomorrow, you’ll have forgotten about 70 percent of what you learned today, Scott says. Some of that information is trivial, no doubt, but other information could be important for your business or customer relationships. To retain more of what you learn, Scott suggests these tips:
1. Make it all about you. If the information seems important to you personally, you’re more likely to remember it — and to remember in greater detail. This method, called “self-referential,” encourages you to be selfish: Will this information increase your profits, or will this person help bring you more referrals? Is there any association, image, or past experience to which you can relate this information? Also, try to spin the information in a positive way; that increases the odds you’ll remember it.
2. Pay attention — for real. It seems obvious, but a weak memory is often a sign you simply didn’t concentrate enough. For example, you meet a new prospect and immediately forget his name. Why? You were so concerned about making a strong first impression that you didn’t really listen to his introduction. Have a mental trigger (such as moving your toe or wiggling your fingers) to remind yourself to listen closely and stay alert. Practice your mental trigger so the association becomes automatic. Another way to get yourself to absorb the information: React and comment mentally or physically to what you’re hearing the other person say.
3. Chunk it with reason. Psychologist George Miller’s “Magic Number of Seven” principle
4. Rehearse the facts. Whatever material comes into your short-term memory is often lost if you hold onto it for less than a minute, research shows. Therefore, you need to repeat to remember. Describe or explain the information to yourself or others, which may even trigger additional related memories. Or, pretend you’re an announcer on a radio program and describe whatever you want to remember, making it as dramatic and exciting as possible.
5. Feel your memories. Memory tends to improve when an experience is encoded with images and other senses. So put yourself mentally or physically in the place where the event or experience occurred. See yourself re-experiencing it. Imagine yourself as a camera, zooming in on a scene. Then replay the scene in your mind, letting your intuition or unconscious mind trigger memories from the setting. This technique is not as effective at recalling large amounts of factual information, but is good for finding lost keys or remembering property details.
“One of the biggest reasons for wanting to improve your memory is to better remember names and faces. It’s something that people who deal with the public — such as salespeople and politicians — are particularly concerned about, and it often can make the difference between getting the sale or the vote … or not. After all, when you remember someone’s name — and can further personalize that by what you remember about that person — he or she is flattered; people feel appreciative that you remembered them. And that can translate into votes, sales, gaining customers, getting referrals, and more.”
About the Author
Sociologist Gini Graham Scott is the author of more than 40 books,
including A Survival Guide to Managing Employees From Hell (AMACOM,
2006), Resolving Conflict (iUniverse, 2006), and Mind
Power: Picture Your Way to Success in Business (iUniverse, 2006).
She is the founder and director of Changemakers and Creative
Communications & Research, a video and music production and publishing
company based in Oakland, Calif.