How to Remember People’s Names

Regardless of what you do for work or in life, one of the best ways to make a favourable first impression is to remember people’s names. Remembering someone’s name is the first, most basic step in showing respect and building a meaningful relationship. So why do so many of us struggle?

Some people are naturally better at remembering names than others, but first, let’s talk about why it’s often so difficult to remember names. Many people forget the other person’s name immediately after meeting them. The reason is simple; as the other person is introducing themselves, we aren’t listening! We’re usually thinking about something else, our own introduction and what we’ll say to make a good first impression. We think about the handshake and hope we connect properly. And in sometimes our attention is focused elsewhere.

Now let’s take a look at some helpful tips so you’ll remember more names, and build better relationships at your next networking event.

Commit and Concentrate. You can only remember what you observe in the first place. If you’re distracted or if not paying attention, you won’t register the person’s name so you can’t possibly remember it. Commit to being 100% present with the person and concentrate on what they’re saying. Focus on paying attention to the person’s name when you first hear it, and forming an impression of the person.

Repeat. Repeat their name as they introduce themselves. Use their name a few times during your conversation to help you remember it during your chat and afterwards. An easy way to do this is to ask them a question and include their name. (“So, what type of business are you in, Michael?”)

Associate Try to make an association between the person’s face and an image the name suggests. Even if you can’t create an image for the person or name, just by working on it, you’re reinforcing your memory.

If you remember visual images most easily, try creating an image based on the name and linking it to some physical characteristic of the person. If you’re auditory, try rhymes or songs.

Conclude with their name: Close the conversation by saying their name. It’ll be validating for them, build trust in the relationship and give you another chance to convince your neurons to fire that way again.