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I have heard about your prodigious and legendary memory, of how you astound live audiences with feats of instant memorization.
I perform magic occasionally. My problem is that I always forget the name of audience members I bring on stage to help in some of the routines in my show.
Can you help me improve my memory?
I know you can. That’s the reason I come to you with bended knees, asking you to teach me how to memorize people’s name. I want to impress my audience with my memory skills.
Mr. Forgetful Freddie
Hi Forgetful Freddie,
If I asked you where you heard from people’s claim that I have a legendary and prodigious memory, I’m sure you would just say you forgot where.
Well, my memory is not prodigious. It is legendary around the house, only because of its epic failures to remember ordinary details of everyday life. You should hear how my children grumble when I organize them into a search party every time I forget where I place my eyeglasses.
And to think that in college I built a reputation for a genius-level memory. I used to impress my classmates with a magazine memorization test and recalling 20 objects called out once. I presented them as magic acts. I learned the techniques not from a magic book but from the Harry Lorayne/Jerry Lucas’ The Memory Book.
That’s what really all my memory was about—a bunch of tricks, techniques and mnemonics. They had some practical applications in school and in performing magic and mentalism requiring memorization, but I have no great use for them in life.
Over the years, I found that all memory improvement systems are contrived and sometimes more complicated to apply than rote memory. Additionally, the skills, once you learn them, are difficult to maintain. They are a don’t-use-it-and-you-lose-it proposition.
On stage, though, memory techniques can come in handy, as in remembering the sequence of routines in a show and remembering audience members’ names.
When remembering names, you’ll do better by keeping your system simple. You already have so many things to mind during a performance—such as your presentation, angle, sleights, IT breaking or thumb tip flashing—that you don’t need a complicated mnemonic system to clutter your brain.
Here are three simple steps to remember people’s name (most memory systems teach these steps before they train you on mnemonics). Most people’s memory lapses are cured just by using these simple techniques without any more going into the advance strategies.
One, ask the person’s name. It might have not occurred to you that the reason you don’t remember a person’s name is that, in the heat of the performance, you FORGOT to ask his name.
Two, listen to the person’s name when he/she tells you. If you’re too preoccupied with shading your thumb tip or defending your angle, you may not hear her tell you she’s Maria Sharapova, so there’s nothing really to recall when it’s time to call her by her name.
Three, repeat the person’s name several times during your performance. Say, “Okay, Digoy, take a card and remember it. Now, ladies and gentlemen, notice that while Digoy is looking at the card, I’m turning my head away so I can’t see Digoy’s card. Are you done, Digoy? Okay, put the card back in the deck and shuffle the deck. Folks, let’s give Digoy a big round of applause…” Or something like that…
If you still can’t remember people’s names even after doing all those steps, then you are a hopeless case. You probably are incapable of even remembering your children’s names.
- Leodini’s Magical Avatar (innermagicclub.wordpress.com)
- Memory Improvement Techniques (drsujan.wordpress.com)
- The reasons for forgetting aren’t really forgetting (sebastianmarshall.com)