I used to sit up late at night and be the biggest sucker of late night infomercials. It was a problem. Every infomercial I watched made me believe that I could change the world if I sent in my 4 easy installments of $19.99. There have been 3 of them that I actually sent away for and departed with some hard earned money. In college, my brother and I got into buying and selling mortgages (never saw a penny). Then Don Lupre got me to buy his kit where I was going to place tiny classified ads and make tons of money. As it turned out, I didn’t live in a “one bedroom apartment” and that was the missing piece to my grand success.
The third kit I bought was Kevin Trudeau’s* Mega Memory. Watching him walk into a room with 100 people, meeting them once, and then being able to recall all of their names blew me away! I wanted to have a memory like that. I always said I had a bad memory. It was a lie I allowed myself to believe and as a result I got lazy at learning names. When I got the kit, I listened to the tapes (yes, you read that right) and it actually worked! I was able to remember things like I never had before. I am not unbelievable at it, but that is more because I have not always continued to employ all of the techniques I learned.
So, let me give you a few things that you can do to learn and remember names better. Some of them I attribute to Kevin and some are things I have learned from experience.
1) When you meet someone for the first time, say their name out loud right away. Then use their name several times in the conversation. It may be the most awkward part of remembering names, if you are not used to doing that.
2) Keep notes. When you finish your conversation with someone, open up Evernote or some other note taking app on your phone or iPod or use a mini notepad. Write down as much of the conversation as you can remember. Also, write down things you physically noticed about the people you met.
3) Re-read your notes later that day and once again each day following, for the week. Retention is the key here. Retention drops dramatically the further away you get from the meeting time. If you take just a few moments to look at your notes you will be amazed at how well you remember.
4) Take pictures! Don’t be weird about it, but you can take some candid shots and then you can edit the shots with names written in on the picture.
5) Re-read your notes before you go back to youth group (or whatever setting that you think you will see those people again) and use their names as soon as you see them!
You will instantly gain trust and credibility with those students. They will know you care and that is significant!
*Yes, Kevin Trudeau is in prison for 10 years for fraud, but that has to do with some diet stuff. It doesn’t have any impact on how memory works.