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How to Remember People's Names

The only thing worse than forgetting someone’s name is calling them by the wrong one. Learn how to lock people’s names into your brain with these tricks.


  • Step 1: Take a deep breath Take a few deep breaths before you’re introduced to someone. When you’re stressed out, the brain activates an enzyme that impairs short-term memory, reducing the chances that you’ll remember what you hear.
  • Step 2: Lock eyes Look the person in the eye as they say their name. Research shows that making eye contact with the speaker doubles your retention.
  • TIP: If you’re at a party, wait until all the introductions are made before you hit the buffet; a Yale study found that memory is best on an empty stomach.
  • Step 3: Say it out loud Say the person’s name out loud when you first learn it, as in, 'Nice to meet you, John.' Repeating the name activates the auditory part of the brain, and the more senses you use the better chance you have of retaining information.
  • Step 4: Psyche yourself When you are told a name, say to yourself, 'I will remember that his name is John.' Our brains have a filter that purges information they consider unimportant. By giving the name extra significance, your brain will be more likely to retain it.
  • TIP: Exercising your brain with games like Scrabble, crossword puzzles, and Sudoku improves memory by strengthening neural pathways and creating new ones.
  • Step 5: Picture it Take a tip from President Teddy Roosevelt, who was renowned for his name recall. His secret? Picturing the person’s name written across their forehead when he was first told it.
  • Step 6: Try word association Think up a word association that will help you recall the name. Remember 'Mrs. Lyon' by picturing her with a mane and a tail. Envision a guy named Arnold as the Terminator--especially if he’s scrawny. The sillier the association, the better it’ll stick.
  • FACT: The average person forgets half of what he’s heard within 30 minutes.

You Will Need

  • Deep breathing
  • Eye contact
  • Visualization
  • Imagination

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