3038-3047514251_9d8cd78ddd_m.jpgI love this blog. I love the comments that you, the participants, bring. Last week’s post on What I Learned From Chris Brogan contained some exceptional comments that were full of value and utility.

One particular thread was very insightful, along the lines of remembering people’s names. As I said, it’s something that Chris did really well, and I’m making sure I’m as good as I can be at. You can’t underestimate the power of knowing someone’s name. In fact, one person even said the most important word in the world to anyone is that person’s name.

I just wanted to pick out a few practical tips:

Malcolm Sleath wrote:

The technique is a variation of what Chris has described. I take a sheet of paper and draw a simple map of where everyone is sitting. As they introduce themselves, I pay attention and write their name in the right place on the plan, and then one or two words of what they have said. Like Chris, I look at the people when they are talking, and just focus on the content instead of making judgements about it.

Once I have my map, during the early part of the meeting, I let my eyes go round the room, saying the names of the people in my head as I look at them. In the first half an hour, I make sure I do this a few times. Then, I play a little game and look at people at random, to see if I can say their name in my head.

The result is that when I do speak, I can remember who has said what and relate my contribution to theirs so they feel included. I come across as a much better person than I really am (I’m just as self-obsessed as the next person.)

Chris Brogan wrote:

* I look directly into your eyes when getting your name… AND/OR
* if I’m meeting you in person for the first time, but know you from the web, I double-up on my memory of you by looking into your eyes and saying your name as I greet you.
* I I repeat your name a few times, and make sure that others around me have met you. This lets me repeat your name.
* I store the moment as best as I can by not allowing my head to be distracted with other details. I try to shut out all the “what next” bits.

Sy Taylor wrote:

One of the best techniques I ever found for remembering something is close deletions. So to remember that term I’d write “To remember things I use […] deletions”

Then set that as a reminder for 3 days time. Just as you’re about to forget, something like that hitting your subconscious buries it in. Our brains are ‘use it or lose it’ lumps of elastic learning capability.

Alastair Banks wrote:

I’ve always focused on this too – remembering people’s names, their partners names and interests is incredibly important – as you say, it shows you care. Chris does this on a new level and has made a big impact on my life since meeting him at Likeminds earlier this year.

Me? I introduce the person I’ve just met to someone else. Saying their name out loud is better than saying it in your head, and I can then link your name to the memory I have of introducing you to someone too.

Your Leading Thoughts

  • What practical tips can you share with us that you use to remember people’s names?

Photo courtesy of bemky

Archived Comments

  • http://www.rosagarriga.net Rosa Garriga

    Thanks for this post Scott, I’ll certainly use some of the tips above! I especially like the map one..
    I haven’t applied any special method to remember names so far. I used to have a very good memory, but now not any more so will have to start!
    What I do now is I’ve created a database to keep information about all the people I come across, I write as much info as I can, and sometimes including a picture or even a physical description! I not only include contact details, but focus mainly on their activity and interests, and think about how we can help each other in the future…

  • http://randelldesign.com/ Randy Dunning

    I’m heading out to lead some training in Pennsylvania today. I’ll use these tips right away! Thanks for posting them and recapping your blog (I hadn’t had a chance to read the post and comments).

  • / Scott Gould

    Rosa – love the database idea.

    How do you do this?
    How much time does it take you?


  • / Scott Gould


    Did the tips work?


  • Juliansummerhayes

    The best book I have read (as recommended by Bob Burg) is The Memory Book by Lorayne and Lucas. Never fails to work and it costs next to nothing.

  • / Scott Gould


    Did you want to provide us with an affiliate link to buy this book with?


  • http://www.rosagarriga.net Rosa Garriga

    Well someone else gave me the idea :-D

    I only have people I’ve met in person, so every time I go to a conference or event I keep all the business cards, then as soon as I can I go through all of them and note down as much as I can remember (even their personality traits!). It does take some time, at least 5-10min per person, but then I can throw away all the business cards, keeping all the info safe and easy to recall at any time. To be honest I’ve just started doing it a few months ago and haven’t seen many benefits yet, but I guess I will soon.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Rosa

    I do similar when I get back from events too – what is the database that you store the info in?


  • http://www.rosagarriga.net Rosa Garriga

    Oh nothing sophisticated…just a excel spreadsheet!


  • Alastair

    Thanks for the mention Scott. I don’t know if you remember but I blogged about a slightly different angle on this topic last year: http://www.iambanksy.co.uk/2009/10/all-in-a-name/ I know it’s not about meeting people, but once you’ve met them and made the effort to remember the name – try and get the spelling right in subsequent follow ups :)

  • / Scott Gould

    Al – you did – sorry, I should’ve linked to it but just didn’t even remember. Thanks for bringing it so people can check it out!

  • http://randelldesign.com/ Randy Dunning

    Just finished up. Yes, they were helpful. Mostly the post was timely in that it reminded me to FOCUS on PEOPLE and not just the technical side of the training. Keeping that perspective, things went well. Thanks!

  • / Scott Gould

    Good stuff Randy

    I think, as you say, just FOCUSSING ON PEOPLE makes such a big difference – because you are actively putting your energy towards people.

    Glad it went well!

  • http://treypennington.com treypennington

    And that IS the key, isn’t it? At the heart of Bob Burg, Zig Ziglar, Chris Brogan, and Scott Gould’s philosophy is a sincere appreciation and focus on other people.

    When businesses stop worshipping ROI and maximizing shareholder wealth, they can focus on creating real wealth by creating value for other people.

    Remembering names is a good start.

  • / Scott Gould

    It’s all about valuing the person in front of you – like you did with me over a year ago :-)

  • http://treypennington.com treypennington

    For what it’s worth, here’s a small business workflow that may help with your quest:
    • send cards to Shoeboxed.com for scanning/digitizing
    • sync Shoeboxed.com data with BatchBlue.com contact database
    • add notes and segmentation variable to BatchBlue.com database
    • integrate BatchBlue.com database with MailChimp.

    This process looks cumbersome, but actually flows quite nicely. The three companies I mention work hard to work together, so they’ve made it easy to get data into a system and put it to work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=560592566 Cindy Bagwell Chrysler

    I think the map idea may work for me. I’ve tried all the others. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I SAY a person’s name, if I haven’t seen it. Plus, I find this getting to be more difficult as I age. What would be amazing to me is, if I’m headed to some kind of conference, having a list (with pictures) of everyone’s names. I could go over that and over that and I’d have no problem at all at the conference. Hardly doable, I’m sure…but I can dream, can’t I? ;)

  • http://drrjv.wordpress.com/ drrjv
  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Great post. People matter and when we treat them that way, it shows. It’s like the only saying goes… “People don’t care until they know how much YOU care.” Knowing their name is recognizing who they are, their value as a human being.

    I’m naturally bad with names. I recall faces easy but names not so well. I’ve intentionally become better by making it a point to think about someone past the initial meeting. I replay their name a few times in my head and then when we’re apart (after initially meeting) I think about them for a bit and associate things about them (that I learned) to their name. Seems to help me burn it into my brain for easier recall. It’s not just the name that matters, it’s also recalling a piece of information about them, who they are and what makes them tick.

  • http://www.rosagarriga.net Rosa Garriga

    Thanks for the info, Trey!
    Yes it does look a bit cumbersome, but I guess when you have a large database you need a more automatized system, don’t you?
    Will have a look at it..

  • / Scott Gould

    THa’s quite a workflow – but Trey you are a master so I trust you!

  • / Scott Gould


  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Cindy

    What we do with Like Minds is provide that list with photos :-)

    I regularly go through the list of people who comment here and re-connect with them, and make sure I remember the names that matter to me too


  • / Scott Gould

    Daniel – totally. That quote, along with “people don’t remember what was said but what was felt” help inform most of what I do.

    It’s all about giving the person in front of you the best experience you can – because they deserve it!

    Thanks for sharing your tips for remembering people’s. Do you think this is linked to your memory style?


  • http://twitter.com/Malcolm12boxes Malcolm Sleath

    I belong to a networking group where a guest book complete with photographs and contact details is emailed to everyone in advance. I take an edited version in an old Filofax with me when I go. It’s also useful for alerting people to the idea that you would like to say hello to them.

  • / Scott Gould

    I guess that’s what we’re doing online!

  • http://www.sueannereed.com Sue Anne Reed

    I’m finding that social media is a great help with remembering people’s names for future meetings. Although, some people with funky aliases (instead of their real names online) make that a bit difficult.

    Also for me, getting people’s business card helps. I need a secondary reinforcement and going through the business cards after an event helps me picture that person and reinforce their name, what company they are with, etc.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Sue

    I actually find that funky aliases make it easier to remember someone’s name! (and the fall back is that you can always call them by their username if you forget their name!)

    Perhaps this is about our memory types. Do you know what your memory type is?