If you were to compete in the USA National Memory Championship, you would first have to memorize 99 names and faces in 15 minutes and recall them in 20 minutes. Next, you would memorize an unpublished 50-line poem in 15 minutes, followed by a series of random digits, an arbitrary list of words and a shuffled deck of playing cards. How do you think you would do? It turns out that best competitors in the world can memorize a deck of cards in less than a minute. Joshua Foer describes these exciting memory battles in Forget Me Not: How to Win the U.S. Memory Championship.
Some of the methods used by the competitors originated in the ancient Greece. In his historic overview of the "science of memory" in Mappa.Mundi Magazine, Carl Malamud tells the story of the poet Simonides of Ceos, who witnessed the destruction of the banquet hall where he sang his poem just minutes before the collapse. Simonides was able to reconstruct the guest list by visualizing the exact location of every guest at the table. This visualization technique became known as the “memory palace.” First, you choose your “memory palace”, which can be any place or route that you remember well. Next, you place your thoughts or images that you want to remember next to the distinctive points in the rooms of your palace or along your route. Those points serve as memory hooks. When you need to recall the material, you mentally walk through the palace and “collect” the pieces of information that you left at each distinctive point. You can use this technique to memorize a presentation or a legal argument, for example.
What if you have trouble memorizing people’s names? Play The Name Game and learn 8 tips on how to remember people’s names from memory expert Frank Felberbaum. Then test his advice at the next networking event.
What memory techniques do you like to use?