Five Easy Ways to Remember Names and Faces

Ever go to a networking event with nametags? Ah, nametags. We’re big fans.

Now, have you ever gone to an event sans nametags? Someone introduces his or her name to you and with a shake of a hand and within the same moment, you can’t remember the name at all?

Never fear. According to a blog post on PsychologyToday, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. provides several tips to remember names along with faces.

1. Look at the eyes. Seriously look at them. The psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst says the eyes are the least likely feature to vary over time. Plus, consider this: Aside from aging and the occasional wrinkle, eyes don’t really change that much.

2. Use “deep” processing of information. She points out in her piece, “When you’re trying to learn a word list, for instance, you should not just look at the words, or even think about how they sound. Your best memory will be for those items whose meaning you contemplate. Put those words in a sentence or form your own associations to them, no matter how oddball they may seem. In fact, the more oddball the better. When it comes to faces, this is a trick that memory experts strongly advise. Form associations between a person’s name and that person’s face (particularly the eyes).”

3. Find out names ahead of time if possible. Let’s say you’re going on a job interview — get the interview schedule and learn the names. Or maybe you’re throwing a party and want to eyeball the RSVP list. In another situation, you may teach a journalism class and want to scan the attendee list ahead of time as well.

4. Listen. This one’s really important so we’ll repeat it: Listen.  She writes, “So often we’re distracted when we meet a new person, we might not even catch the name at all…If you give yourself an extra second to process that name together with the face, it will increase the odds astronomically that you’ll remember the name and face better.”

5. Practice, practice, practice. Think we’re kidding? As you watch TV shows in the comfort of your own home, check out imdb to look up celebs’ names and start associating them with their head shot.

“You can also diagnose your weaknesses with this simple exercise. Perhaps you’re worse at remembering men’s names, or perhaps you look too much at the changing features of a person’s costumes and disguises.  You can even work out a scoring system and track your progress as the weeks go by.”