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How to Remember a Word or Name You're Blanking On

Learn how to remember a word or name you're blanking on in this Howcast video about memory techniques featuring memory expert Barry Reitman.


I'm Barry Reitman, author of "Secrets, Tips and Tricks of a Powerful Memory," and I'd like to discus the question of how do you remember a word or a name that you're blanking on? It happens to all of us, doesn't it? There's two different answers. One is when you've used one of the many systems that you'll see in this video series, where you've pictured a name, where you've pictured Mary with a wedding band - Marry, Mary, a wedding band around her head - when you're using silly pictures like that, it's really easy. Because what I say to people is, "Don't try to remember her name." If your natural memory has learned it, you won't have to try, you'll see her face and you'll know it's Mary. But if it's one of the first times you've met her, and you can't place it, the last thing you want to do is say, "What's her name?" What you want to say is, "What picture did I see? She has a big forehead, what did I see around - I saw a wedding band. Marry. Every Mary I see is going to be associated with a wedding band, so once I see a wedding band around her head, I know it's Mary. I've seen the picture, and then that picture, that system will tell my natural memory what it is.Natural memory, system memory, they work together as a symbiosis and one will inform the other.

The next is more difficult, of course if you haven't used a memory system, a mnemonic system of some sort, and maybe you've just heard the name. So, of course, as a memory person, I'll say, "Try to use it all the time." But if you haven't, all I can suggest is if it's getting to you, back off. Think of something else.

Some experts actually say, "Make a fist with your left hand if you're blanking on a name or a word." And there's a lot of theory that the left hand is connected to the right part of the brain and that might - I personally don't know if those theories are valid. But I do believe that the idea of, in this case, making a fist with one hand might pull you back from that question of, "What's her name, what's her name?" and might help your natural memory relax, and when it's relaxed, you'll do a better job.

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