Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 32 - February 2008 - by Phil Chambers



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Welcome to the February issue of the Learning Technologies Newsletter, Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This month we have news of a chimpanzee that can memorise numbers better than the human UK Memory Champion, a breakthrough in the treatment of memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease plus our regular Mind Map tip and quote of the month. The main article is on how to remember names and information about the people you meet.

Mind Mapping Tip of the Month

Keep personal information secret by using or devising a code. Lex McKee substitutes English letters with their Greek equivalents. Leonardo da Vinci famously used mirror writing to keep his notebooks secret. You could even use Morse code or a visual representation of Braille but it may be a little time consuming drawing all the dots or dashes!

For more tips see '101 Top Tips for Better Mind Maps'


February's Quote of the Month

" The only really useful thing
about aging is, you can legitimately
forget everybody's name,"

"I have started to do this
on purpose, as they
get wonderfully angry. "

- Eric Idle
(Monty Python Star)

Networking and Names

As next week is International Networking Week, I thought I would use this month's newsletter as an opportunity to discuss how you can use some simple techniques to improve any networking that you do.

I am a member of Business Network International and the local Chamber of Commerce Network Club. Both these organisations host regular structured meetings where business people meet to refer business to each other. However, the techniques that I'll share this month are equally applicable in informal settings such as meeting people at church, or at a party.

How often do you see someone you vaguely know (or even know well!), greet them by saying 'Hello, there' and then spend the next 10 minutes desperately trying to remember their name? This is embarrassing in a social context but can be disastrous in business. Especially so in a networking context where you need to build credibility and trust. If you can't even remember my name, how likely are you to look after me as a client?

Greeting someone by name and recalling details about them shows that you care and take an interest in helping them. With the application of memory techniques you and achieve this easily and build much stronger, longer lasting business and social relationships.

Most people can recognise and remember a person's face but have trouble recalling their name. The key is to find a way of associating the name to the face so that the two are recalled together. Because faces are visual but names are sounds or groups of letters, it makes sense to convert both elements into images. You can see them together, linked in your imagination. Once you have done that you need some 'place' to store them in context. Let me explain...

Look at the face and think of who the person reminds you of. Don't worry if it is only a slight resemblance. First impressions are always best. Perhaps someone famous or a friend. If no-one springs to mind what might this person do? Do they look like a typical bank manager or computer nerd. The brain loves to pigeon hole people and things.

Use this to create a location. For example, if a person reminds you of Gordon Brown you think of 10 Downing Street. Next think about the name. Add people or objects that the name suggests to the location.

For example, Bob Wolf could suggest the comedian Bob Monkhouse (or if you prefer Bob Mortimer partner to Vic Reeves) and a wolf. So you imagine Bob Monkhouse telling jokes on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street whist a wolf howls at his side.

Make the scene as vivid as possible. Next time you see the face it will trigger the scene and hence the name. Trust yourself - it will!

If the person doesn't remind you of anyone you can use the face itself to act as your location... Look at the features of the face and exaggerate them like a caricature.

Think about the name and imagine objects associated with the name added to the face.

For example, Holly McDonald could have a hamburger on her head and holly sprouting from her hair.

If the name doesn't immediately fit any object, use things that sound similar. For example Julie Bates could be 'jewely'   (imagine her wearing fabulous jewellery) 'baits' (imagine worms wriggling in her hair).

Once you have the picture in your head you can easily add additional images to represent other data such as the company the person works for, their interests, family, contacts they are looking for, whatever is relevant depending on the context in which you meet.

For example, Adam Williams works for Hatchers Solicitors. So I can imagine Kenneth Williams wearing only a fig leaf (associated with Adam in the garden of Eden) and a lawyer's wig, hatching out of a giant egg in the location associated with the person's face.

Usually the more bizarre you make the image the easier it is to remember. You should normally avoid telling people how you remember their names as it is bound to offend! If you spend time on trains or busses, look at the fellow passengers and practice the first part of the technique - You can even invent names for them. Just remember not to stare or chuckle to yourself as you'll get some very funny looks.


Chimp beats UK Memory Champion - Click here for the story.

Electrical implant could alleviate memory loss in Alzheimer's sufferers - Click here for the story.

That's all for this month. Please contact me if you have any comments or questions

Best Wishes