Remembering Names


One of the best ways to make a favorable impression is to remember people’s names. Relationship building and connecting with people is essential in all jobs and industries. We have all done it, we have all blanked on someone name, and this causes great embarrassment and makes us uncomfortable. When you remember someone’s name, it shows them that they are important to you.

I once worked for a motivational speaker who had a seminar on remembering names. I have never forgotten the tips that were shared.

  1. Focus:

A major reason you don’t recall names is you were not listening. Be sure to look at the person, make and keep eye contact. Do not be scanning the room or having your own conversation in your head. Eye contact with the person is a must.

  1. The Power of 3:

When you meet someone, don’t just continue the conversation, search for ways to insert their name into what you’re saying. When you meet someone for the first time repeat their name back to them immediately.

For example, Hi, I am Cheryl. You would say “Hi, Cheryl nice to meet you.” As the conversation progresses find another opportunity to use the name again. “Cheryl, how long have you been working at the _____________?” Finally, at the end be sure to shake their hand and say “Cheryl, it was nice meeting you.”

The key here is to use their name three times throughout the conversation. In the beginning, in the middle, and at the end.

  1. Associate:

Find ways to associate their name with a visual image. For example, my last name is Viola like the instrument.

Picture images that sound like a person’s name and combine them with things you know about them or facial features. Brian Lee was the person who taught me these tips, he would tell his audiences to imagine on the tip of his nose a brain and general Lee standing on it.

The more you can create an association with a facial feature the easier it will be to remember their name when you see them next.

Remember you will not share your association and visualization with others.

  1. Make Connections:

Another association that can be helpful is to make a connection between the person you’re talking to, and someone else you know with the same name. For example, I have someone who associates my last name Viola with her grandmother who has Viola as a first name.

The more you practice these techniques and find ways that work for you the easier it becomes. I have learned that it is all too easy to slip out of the habit. Situations or jobs may change but you will always have the opportunity to meet new people.  Dale Carnegie said: “A person’s name, to him or her is the sweetest and most important sound in any language”.

Cheryl Viola, MBA, Executive Director