I went to a luncheon last week where the guest speaker was Chester Santos, the 2008 USA National Memory Champion. Since I paid for the luncheon and you, my dear readers did not, I’m essentially saving you money! I swear the world owes me major karma for all the value I provide my readers.
The title of the luncheon at the City Club is what drew me in: “Forget Names Easily? Memory Training Made Fun.” I am the worst with remembering names. I don’t even think it goes in one ear—let alone out the other. At the very least, Chester said, you have to pay some attention. You can’t remember if you’re not paying any attention.
Also, you know how people often say they have a photographic memory but they can’t remember names? It’s because you see the face, but we don’t visualize names. The easiest way to remember things is to attach as many senses to it as possible (see, hear, smell, touch, taste). One of the exercises we did was memorizing a list of 15 random items (feet, chair, lion, river, house) and we did that by working a story around them. Your feet are standing on a chair which is attached to a roaring lion who is trying to cross the river to get to a house…
There’s a misconception that our memory gets worse with age. Not true, it’s more a function of children absorbing and learning more, versus adults who are no longer going to school. Makes me want to sign up for a Spanish class!
Chester has some pretty bad-ass accolades including memorizing two randomly-sorted decks of cards within a few minutes, then repeating the sequence back perfectly. Here’s a video clip of the guy. What really amazed me was his example of the World Memory Champion who memorized the Oxford dictionary and can tell you exactly where you can find certain words (page, column, row) and vice versa where you call out a page number and he’ll tell you what’s on it.