How to Use Memory Sytems to Remember Details About People

How to Use Memory Sytems to Remember Details About People

Remembering essential details about people is an uncommon skill that, for the clever, exists at the intersection of being exceptionally valuable for social and business life but very easy to get good at if you are willing to apply proven memory systems.

Memory Systems

This article will give you a memory system to use which will empower your memory to easily recall numerous personal details, even about people who you don't know well or have only met once.

RapportThe Benefits of Remembering Personal Details

  • It creates almost instant rapport with someone who is a new friend or acquaintance.
  • Perception of intelligence; a keen memory and intelligence are two things that are often regarded as the same.
  • In a world where people are very egotistical, narcissistic, and for the most part focused completely on their own lives, it shows that you are genuinely interested in others. This makes you stand out in the minds of others.
  • The nature of the human ego is that everyone's favorite subject is themselves, so when you show interest in others how can they not like you?
  • People frequently harm their relationships by forgetting small but essential details about others.
  • In business situations, remembering small details about people can give you the extra rapport you need to close the deal and it's what makes you stand out in a networking party full of people exchanging business cards.
  • In dating situations, it can be attractive and shows you are paying real attention.
  • It's an excellent opportunity to practice memory systems that will sharpen your mind and creative faculties.

The Memory SystemRemembering Details Memory Map

We are going to be employing a memory system that relies on you creating visualizations on the fly that represent the details we are trying to remember. As you will see below it's very important that these visualizations are absurd, silly, or strange. Neuroscience tells us that absurd, silly, strange, or novel experiences (or in our case visualizations) cause a high amount of cognitive dissonance which prompts our neural net to create new synaptic connections. The result is a memory that is much easier to recall on the fly.

The Mental Process

  1. When you meet someone new and hear their name visualize something that sounds like their name (the AV Association Technique video course explains this in-depth).
  2. The first detail we want to memorize using our memory system is the event or environment in which we met this new person. Pick one or two keywords that represent the event or environment which you can visualize.
  3. Now imagine the 1st visualization (the thing that sounds like their name) interacting with the 2nd visualization (the keyword that represents the event or environment). It's IMPORTANT that the visualization of the interaction is something absurd, silly, or strange, it could involve the physical objects visualized being way out of proportion, dramatic movement and violence happening, or being multiplied to very large numbers.
  4. The next detail we want to memorize is a personal detail (it could be what they do for work or play, their interests, family, activities, etc). Like before we need to pick a keyword or two which can be visualized that represents this detail.
  5. Now we need to create another linking visualization between the introduction event/environment detail and the personal detail we want to memorize. Like before the 'interaction visualization' should be absurd, silly, or strange.
  6. Using this technique you can create a visualization link of multiple details. You could potentially use it to remember up to dozens of details about people.

Note: I like to use the event/environment of introduction as the 1st detail in the link, you don't necessarily have to do it this way (It just makes the most sense to me), you can link the first personal detail to the name visualization if that makes it easier on you.

Example #1

  • Tammy memoryName: Tammy Name
  • "Sounds Like" Visualization: T Hammy, a ham standing up shaped like a T
  • Event or Environment of Introduction: Friday morning Yoga class Keyword: Yoga
  • Name-Environment Interaction Visualization: I imagine a sweaty yoga class, I go into the Yoga class with a big piece of ham and start slapping the sweaty yoga practitioners with it.
  • Personal Detail: Tammy is taking the bar exam for law school soon Keyword: Bar
  • Personal Detail-Introduction Visualization: I imagine that in that yoga class, I grab a big bar and then have to fight off hundreds of attorneys, people in suits, like the scene in The Matrix 2 where Neo fights off all the agents with the bar, but in yoga class.

Example #2

  • SteveMemoryName: Steve
  • "Sounds Like" Visualization: Steve sounds like Stevia, which makes me visualize a spice you use in a kitchen while cooking.
  • Event or Environment of Introduction: Sales meeting at car dealership Keyword: Auto dealership
  • Name-Environment Interaction Visualization: I imagine a big car dealership but instead of hundreds of cars on the lot and in the showroom, there are giant car-sized spice bottles full of stevia.
  • Personal Detail: Steve's wife had an operation lately and using a wheelchair.
  • Personal Detail-Introduction Visualization: I now imagine that hundreds of wheelchairs roll into the car dealership and start bashing into, cracking, and destroying the giant glass bottles of Stevia.


The visualization technique above is not bulletproof so I'm a big fan of logging the personal details in my smartphone when I get home.

Technology Memory Systems

Remembering the myriad personal details about a large number of people in our lives is easier to do today than ever before thanks to technology. Generations past had to keep stacks of notebooks to make notes in, an interesting historical factoid; before paper was common and convenient to use Roman aristocrats would employ nomenclators. These were servants or slaves whose job was to accompany the Roman aristocrats to parties where the Romans were getting drunk, it was the nomenclator's responsibility to remember personal details about who their master met the night before and who was worthwhile to stay in touch with for business or social purposes.

Smartphone apps for remembering personal details:

Evernote for memoryEvernote - This is an excellent note-taking application that syncs between your smartphone and your computer. Another excellent feature of Evernote is that you can take voice notes, so let's say you are at a party and you make a valuable new contact who you want to record details about, just duck into a restroom and record a voice note to follow up with later. It's also free.

Category: Apps & Software

GoogleDocforMemoryGoogle Docs - Google Docs is a free cloud-based application that allows you to create a Word doc and access it from your phone or computer later. Also free and easy to use.
Whenever I meet a new person whose personal details I want to remember I usually log their name, environment of introduction, and details using this template.

The environment of introduction:

I will enter them into both Evernote or Google Docs and then I will also enter the details into the contact notes I have on them. In my case, I use an Android smartphone so the contact notes field in my Gmail account is where I copy these notes. That way I can access the notes by searching by contact or I can have a friend quiz me on my Evernote log to practice my visualization memory.

Explore the memory-hacking rabbit hole further with these books, Moonwalking with Einstein, The Memory Book, and Flyboy...


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