On occasion, we could all use some memory improvement tips.

Perhaps you have had the uncomfortable experience of forgetting the name of someone you recently met?  Or perhaps you could not remember something you just read, but you remember that it was an interesting article.  As a public speaker it is essential to develop a good memory.  By implementing relatively easy memory tips, you can develop and strengthen your memory just as an athlete builds muscle. Further, it is not so hard to do.  Those who exercise their memory will be amazed how quickly it will develop.  And, as a bonus, preparing and delivering talks improves memory.

Let us identify some practical steps you can take to enhance your memory?

Memory Tip #1

Developing interest in the subject or person you want to remember. Memory thrives on stimulation.  Some topics are rather dry, so we may have to find a facet that interests us.  For instance, I’m not too fond of history. However, I really like science.  I like the stories of precisely how a discovery was made, or how we came to have such modern conveniences as the digital computer. An outstanding book on the development of the minicomputer is ‘The Soul of a New Machine’.  In a similar way, you can find an aspect of your subject that interests you; this interest will stimulate your memory.

Memory Tip#2

Create a good environment for memory. It is not so easy to focus and learn if something is on your mind.  A good way to clear your mind is to jot down what is troubling you, then fold up the paper and place it in your pocket.  You can take care of the issue when you are done with your reading.  Getting things off your mind will improve your comprehension which, in turn, will improve your memory.

Remembering what you read. After reading a few paragraphs of a book or article, ask yourself ‘What is the main point of what I just read?’ If you cannot recall the key point, then look back and find it in the material.  For an exercise, underline, highlight or mark in some other way the primary point in what you just read. After you finish reading an entire chapter or article, examine it again. List all of the main points. If you cannot recall them, review the reading again.  You should have the main points marked and that should make it simpler.

Relate what you are reading to what you currently know.  Again, ask yourself some questions such as ‘How can I apply this information?’ and ‘How would I explain this to someone else?’

Memory Tip #3

Remembering people’s names. Again, we need to have an interest in the person.  Have a good reason to recall their name.  Is it because they're a business contact, a possible employer (or employee), a new friend, a customer?  Answer the question; ‘Why are they important to you?’

Next, when you meet someone, ask their name right off.  Repeat their name to fix the correct pronunciation in your mind. Make it into a practice to use the person’s name many times during that first conversation.  Concentrate on the person, what they look like, what kind of accent they have, their mannerisms and gestures.  Attempt to associate the face with the name.

Teachers, at least good teachers, usually do very nicely in remembering names, even though the class changes from year to year or even semester to semester. What helps them? We might think its just repetition.  In reality though, a teacher that is focused on his or her students, will likely find it simpler to remember their names.  Don’t you find it true that if someone forgets your name, you feel that they really are not interested in you?


Set a goal of introducing yourself to someone this week.

  • Ask the person’s name.
  • Repeat it to clarify the pronunciation.
  • Start with some small talk such as the weather, or a news item (a positive item is most appropriate).
  • Use the person’s name throughout the conversation.
  • Close the conversation using their name.  Example: It’s been a pleasure actually talking to you Miguel!


Create a short mental talk outline.

  • Read a quick article on a topic that interests you.
  • Review the article.
  • Select two key points to talk about.
  • Tell someone what you learned. 

Remember, memory, like a muscle can be trained!