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Remembering Methods

The Martha Stewart Show, March 2008


Collector and magician Benjamin Levy shares two fantastic tricks for remembering names. Part 2.


Collector and magician Benjamin Levy shares two fantastic tricks for remembering names. Part 2.

If you use these tools to create vivid images in conjunction with a new name or face, you'll remember new names like magic!

The FACE Method
The F stands for "focus," the A for "ask," the C for "comment," and the E for "employ." The steps seem simple -- and they are. But taken together, focusing, asking, commenting, and employing will spur a complex reaction in the mind that makes the recall of a name much more likely than if only one, two, or three of the steps had been followed. FACE anchors a new name by using repetition, emotion, and vocalization to anchor the neuron strings that form memories. This method guarantees that five minutes after meeting someone, you won't have to ask for their name again.

People have great results with FACE, but if you want even longer-lasting memory powers, you can use another method in conjunction with this one. This method relies more on visualization, which is a very effective way to remember things. Picture the brain as a big suitcase into which you throw lots of scraps of paper. If you throw in a scrap that says "bill," it will get get lost amidst all the others; but if you throw in a bowling ball, you're always going to be able to find and remember it.

Step 1: Focus
You need to focus as if you're focusing on a picture. This seems obvious, but if you think about it, when people meet someone they are so concerned with making a good impression that they completely overlook the one thing we can say that will leave the other person thinking we're someone special: his or her name.

Step 2: Ask
Ask to hear the name again. You're asking to confirm.

Step 3: Comment
Make a comment to yourself about the name. If you meet Martha, for example, comment to yourself: Martha, like Martha Stewart, like Martha Washington. You're cross-referencing.

Step 4: Employ
Then, say something like: It's a pleasure to meet you, Martha.

The NAME Method
The N stands for "nominate," the A for "articulate," the M for "morph," and the E for "entwine."

Step 1: Nominate
Nominate a facial feature, like a woman's elaborately arched eyebrows or a man's handlebar moustache. Be careful of choosing things like eyeglasses, which people tend to put on and take off.

Step 2: Articulate
Articulate to yourself what you notice about that feature. What you're articulating isn't as important as the fact that you're devoting your full attention to the feature. You're brain is getting the message: This is important -- pay attention!

Step 3: Morph
Morph the person's name into something that retains an element of the original but is much more graphic and will remind you of the actual word you're trying to remember. Use objects for morphs because they're reliable image-generators, but simply morphing a name into a word that evokes an image isn't going to do anything to link that name with a particular face.

Step 4: Entwine
Entwine the physical characteristic you've nominated with the morph in a way that is unforgettable.

Special Thanks
Special thanks to Benjamin Levy, a professional magician, for showing us his tactics for remembering names.

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