Using your '10 Minute Memory' to Remember Names

Published on 2014-02-12

Source:  barbourians @ Flickr
IF YOU CONDUCT TRAINING AT WORK you’ll know that there is an advantage of learning your trainees’ names. You can build goodwill fast, challenge sleepy trainees, and ultimately have full control of the training room. But how can you learn your audience’s names fast?
At ClarkMorgan, we call this the ‘10 Minute Memory’, and it’s part of our Train-the-Trainer program. A few years back in Shanghai, my colleague and I demonstrated the ’10 Minute Memory’ on a group of 48 trainees. By lunch time we were able to remember everyone’s first name, and occasionally their family name or nickname! Here’s how it works:

1. After someone has introduced themselves to you, often before the training has begun, you should repeat their name in sentences at least 3 times within the first one minute. For example:

“Nice to meet you Steven. So, Steven, where do you work?”

“Steven, do you mind telling me what you do within your company?”

“That’s interesting. So Steven, how are you spending your weekend?”

Each time you use the person’s name, for example ‘Steven’, you should also ensure that you are looking at the person in the eye. This will help build recognition on a unconscious level.

2. Once you leave the conversation with Steven be sure to look around the room to locate him and mentally recall his name within a 10 minute interval. Refreshing your memory within 10 minutes will ensure that he doesn’t slip from your immediate memory, your RAM, so to speak. Now obviously, if the attendees number is greater than, say 48 people, then the ‘10 Minute Memory’ becomes more difficult, but not impossible – use a colleague.

3. If you have a colleague, you can also employ a third technique to remember names – have each trainer introduce trainees to one another. For example:

“Hey Morry, Jane and I (making a gesture towards Jane) were just talking about how the rapidly changing banking policies in mainland China.”

“Morry, I’d like to introduce you to Jane (making gesture towards Jane) who works in the HR department.”

Doing this will help both people remember names more quickly and also, potentially save the arriving party from the embarrassment of having forgotten a name.

It’s ironic that while my colleague and I were able to remember 48 trainees’ names, many of the trainees who had been working with their colleagues for years still didn’t know half, which leads me to the other use of the ’10 Minute Rule’. It’s not just restricted to use in the training room, but can be employed in the office, at networking events and even your kids’ birthday parties!