Ultimate guide on how to remember names

You are not alone, everyone struggles with remembering people's names. Are you dreading that upcoming wedding? Wanting to feel more in control at work? Or maybe you just wish you were better at remembering neighbors names… The tips below just work.

The following 5 tips are time tested. After we cover them, I will share a bonus innovate tip that is helping people remember names, more easily, and more permanently.

When you meet a new person or see someone you haven't seen in a while, try the following strategies:

  1. Pay attention and care enough to remember
  2. Say their name back to them
  3. Make a memorable connection
  4. Use their name when you say goodbye
  5. Write it down ASAP
  6. Bonus: Practicing names is crucial - Use a memory app

Pay attention and care enough to remember

Be motivated. Remembering people's names is one of the keys to unlocking new connections. Pay attention the first time you hear their name. Focus on the person you're talking too. Don't have another conversation with yourself in your head.

Say their name back to them

An easy way to re-inforce their name is to say it back to them immediately. "Nice to meet your Julie." Take two seconds and focused on their name. Spell their name to yourself. If the name is new or unusual to you, and you feel it is appropriate, you can ask them to spell their name.

Make a memorable connection to their name

There are a lot of different strategies for making hard to remember names, more memorable.

Let's pretend we met a new co-worker Prabhakar. Here are some great mnemonic devices:

  • Pick out an unusual facial feature
    • unusual facial hair? big ears? weird hair cut?
  • Does the name sound like something else? Probe-a-Car
  • Make a story - Prabhakar - is a pro racecar driver
  • Link the name to something you already know - Prabhakar means 'light maker' in Sanskrit
    • Okay, I didn't already know that, but a quick Internet search can be helpful.
  • Visualize something about them that reminds you of their name
    • Prabhakar's beard and hair is a race car helmet
    • Strong emotional images are more memorable
  • Break down large, complicated, or unfamiliar names into syllables. Make that into a story
    • Prab-ha-kar A pro race car driver is on patrol
  • Use rhymes - Prabhakar - Rob a car
  • Associate them with someone you already remember
    • Associate the face with a famous person or someone you already know
    • Prabhakar looks like Gary from college
    • Associate the style of someone famous or you already know (glasses, hat, accessories)
    • Associate them with someone with a similar name that you already know or is famous

Don't worry, you do not have to use every tip, every time. Even a single mnemonic device from the list can be a great tool in your toolbelt.

Putting it all together - Think like the artists that make the Garbage Pail Kids

Each Garbage Pail Kids card uses one or more of these tips. They are very memorable.

Adam Bomb Garbage pail kids card Luke Puke Garbage pail kids card Vile Kyle Garbage pail kids card Lost in Austin Garbage pail kids card Meltin' Milton Garbage pail kids card

Garbage Pail Kids is a registered trademark of the Topps chewing gum company.

Use their name when you say goodbye

It's a basic tip, but using their name to say goodbyte helps reinforce their name a second time. If you have forgotten their name, be honest and ask for their name again.

Write it down ASAP

Quickly and discreetly capturing a name is important. Jot a note down in your phone. If this feels awkward, step into the bathroom and put it into your notes or memorization app.

Pause at the end of the day to gather new names you've acquired. Ask yourself "Who did I meet today?"

Bonus: Practicing names makes it stick. Use a memory app

As promised... the tips above are traditional ways to remember names, but ...

It's 2019, shouldn't apps and websites be making us smarter and better people?

When it comes to breakthroughs in remembering people's names, the answer is yes!

Writing someone's name down is good, but useless if you don't periodically review and try to remember these names.

Luckily, there are now memory apps that help you cement names in long term memory.

Popular Memory Apps

Anki is a free application for memorizing Flash cards. It is free, open source software.

SuperMemo is a Windows application. It is the "grand-daddy" of memory applications.

Both of the previous applications are general purpose. You can put any information in them and they will help you learn the material. They are often used for memorizing foreign languages, physiology terms, etc.

Here at Name Genius, we were inspired by these learning applications. We invented the world's first name memorization app.

It's kind of like a free memory game with a single purpose - Helping you master any name.

How name memory apps work

You add a persons name, some memorable facts, and optionally a photo.

It will quiz you once per day. As you successfully remember a name it will wait a few days before reminding you to practice.

Screenshot of Name Genius Screenshot of Name Genius showing someone's name after a quiz


Wishing you could remember names is natural.

There is no such thing as a good memory or a talent for memory. Memory is a muscle. If you train it, it strengthens.

1/3 of your memory potential is biological, but 2/3 of your potential is up to choices you make.

First impressions are critical. Imagine having the super power to remember any name!

Get the social and professional benefits you deserve, start practicing these tips today!

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