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How to Remember Names – 4.5 Strategies

by | Jun 15, 2023 | 6 comments

What’s the most important word to gain your listeners’ attention?

Their name – spelled the way they like it spelled and pronounced the way they like it pronounced.

You exclaim, “I’m horrible at remembering names!” My answer, “You don’t have a Name Recall Chromosome. It’s not in your DNA. To remember names takes energy.”

On a recent fun expedition cruise to the Galapagos Islands I was reminded of this name recall skill set. Juan Carlos, one of the naturalist tour guides, met me on Day One. On Day Two he said, “Good morning Karen. Ready to go on the lava hike?” While excited about the hike, I was beyond impressed that he remembered not only my name, but everyone’s on the boat. That’s 100 people!

Juan Carlos – Galapagos Islands Nature Guide

Here are the 3 name recall strategies used by Juan Carlos with 1.5 bonus tips from me.

1 Takes100% concentration

2 Repeat the name

3 Associate the name with some facial or physical feature of the person

Juan Carlos said, “Karen – it’s a matter of will. I just tell myself, ‘I’m going to learn these names.’” I responded, “You’re right. I tell my clients that name recall is an active vs. passive event.”

My 1.5 Bonus Tips:

1 Don’t introduce yourself to new folks up front, OR ask them their names at the beginning of the conversation. Why? You will have a better chance of recalling their names IF you know some factoids about them. After some introductory conversation THEN share your names.

1.5 Throw them a bone. How many times are you in a conversation and don’t remember their names but you’ve been introduced too many times already. You can’t ask again! In reverse, you might realize that the person you’re talking to is in the same quandary with YOU. So, give them the gift of saying your name in the conversation. Like, “Just the other day Jim said to me, ‘Karen – you should write another book.” You’ve just shared your name and your partner’s name. If the listener is paying attention – they now have The Most Important Word to gain traction. Done.

#Communication   #KarenCortellReisman   #speakforyourself   #NameRecallTips

© 123RF Stock Photo


  1. Harry Hall

    Learn the factoid first, then get the name. That’s so different than what we’re taught, but it makes sense. By getting to know them first, we’ve got an extra incentive/motivation to learn the name. And this is so critical to professional and personal success. Thanks for the great strategy.

    • Karen Cortell Reisman

      Thanks Harry! Yes, if we have a shred of info about the other person we have a much better chance of recalling who they are.
      Thanks for your feedback, Karen

      • Joel Small

        It seems like it has a lot to do with being fully present at the moment

        • Karen Cortell Reisman

          Hi Joel – so true. If you are fully present you have a much better chance of remembering names and other nuances as well.

          Thanks for your comment, Karen

  2. Michael Gallant

    Great tip, Kathy?

    • Karen Cortell Reisman

      Thank you, Mark?

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