no meaning per se. A word in a foreign
language I want to learn? It is just a
hard to remember sound if not linked
to something we already know. A complex theory about leadership we want
to refer to? Full of theoretical ideas, but
it is rarely visual and has no association
If you manage to transform these
into images and optimally link the
images to locations, your brain already
has all the space you need to remember
the information forever. A “memory
palace” is a set of locations, preferably
in a place you know well, such as your
house or your favorite park that you
prepare to store memories on. Important: Pre-arrange these locations. Do
not make them up while learning.
Picture yourself standing in front of
your front door. Picture opening it.
How does it look inside? Some people
tend to respond, “Oh, no! I need to
clean.” Next, focus on the furniture.
What is in the hallway? Where does
which door lead? Of course, you know
these answers and can “see them” in
front of your inner eye.
When you speak to groups, it is your
job to make such information comprehensible and memorable. You use storytelling, metaphors and visuals because
you know they work. An image sticks,
even if it is wrong. As a neuroscientist
and a speaker, I cringe every time I hear
about “left-brained people” or “
right-brain creativity.” Neither logic nor creativity resides in one half of the brain.
But that is just a boring fact, and it must
compete with a catchy image. Even
knowing that on stage, most speakers
leave their own remembering to chance.
If you hear a name and don’t remember
it; well, that is a missed opportunity
because everyone likes to hear his or her
name and receive attention.
How would you feel if someone you
met at Influence 2016 approached you
at Influence 2017 and already knows
your name? Could you reciprocate?
Yes, you need to make an effort, but
memory training will make it super
easy. Always make an image!
For example, if you met a meeting
planner named Miss Fisher, you could
picture her being a fisherwoman in your
mind. See her catching that huge pike
and being excited. When you meet her
again, you will remember and not confuse her name with her job or hobby.
When learning a new speech or
presentation, use the memory palace to
store all ideas you want to address.
Even when someone asks a question,
you can always go back to your palace
to look up the next topic. There is a
reason this technique is the secret of
the memory athletes!
As in all sports, memory
training is critical. Participants
in my study trained for 30
minutes a day for six
weeks. That amount of
training is manageable,
and their gains stayed
over months when we
asked them back for a
surprise retest. Give
me half a day and I
can teach everyone
to remember a list of
80 random digits in
30 minutes. To be
able to do it in a
training. To break the
current world record
of 17.65 seconds probably needs some talent, too.
But the methods remain the same.
Known as the expert on memory
improvement, Boris Nikolai Konrad,
PhD, CSP, is an active neuroscientist at
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition
and Behavior, an author and international
keynote speaker. He won the World Memory
Championships with his team seven times
and is listed in the Guinness Book of