If you’re someone who always remembers names — lucky you! If (like most people) you’re not, then this should help.

Our existing memories can be thought of as anchors in our mind — they’re already firmly in place and unlikely to budge. If we can hook a new memory onto an existing anchor, it’s more likely to stick.

So the key to remembering names it to use existing anchors (memories) to hook onto the new name that we want to remember.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Hop over to this random name generator
  2. Change the options to fit your preference — I chose first name only, either gender, random surname and English
  3. Examine the name that pops out and think about how you can associate it with existing memories. For example, I got Gary Thorburn as my first name. I associated Gary with Gary Lineker, the ex-footballer who advertises Walkers crisps. I associated Thorburn with Cliff Thorburn, an ex-snooker player with a big moustache
  4. Take the associations and form them into one image. My image is of Cliff Thorburn leaning over a snooker table to take a shot. He’s just been eating crips and there are a few fragments stuck in his moustache. As he goes to take the shot, the fragments drop onto the table, putting him off the shot. He misses, making him super angry — he bangs his fist on the table
  5. The key is to make a really memorable image. The more senses that you can link the image to, the better — I could have improved the image above by imagining that he’s eating cheese and onion crisps that leave a nice cheesey smell behind
  6. Try this with names of people you meet in daily life — practise quickly forming a mental image. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you start remembering names

You can find some more techniques for improving your memory on the memory homepage.