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Memory Training Techniques & Tips

Memory Training Techniques & Tips

What is memory training?

The definition of memory training is:

Memory training a set of mental tricks and techniques which will help you to properly encode information into your memory, when you first see or hear it, and later to retrieve that information, whenever you need it.

Memory training is based upon five major principles:

  1. Repetition.
  2. Association.
  3. Imagination.
  4. Structure.
  5. Energy.

You can remember this list by the acronym, "RAISE."

To explain the memory training process, I need to work through this list backwards, starting with the word ENERGY.

1. If you want to remember, then pour some Energy into it.

Memorisation is not a passive event, but rather an active process.

To work effectively, first activate your memory.

Switch on your mind and pay attention to your surroundings.

Pay attention to what you see, hear, think and read.

Many people don't recall what happened because they didn't notice it in the first place.

To improve your memory, the first step is to decide to invest energy into the process.

Make an EFFORT to remember.

2. Impose a Structured order onto whatever you want to remember.

Impose order on chaos.

If you want to improve your memory, then impose a structure onto the information.

To do that, consciously think about categorising things into similar sets.

In your mind's eye, put things that are logically similar, together.

Look for ways to order and structure the material, so that there is some coherent reason to the way the information is laid out before you.

This is important because information that is presented in a disconnected, disjointed and arbitrary way, is difficult to remember.

Ordered and structured information is easier to remember.

For example, how many categories would you break up this random list of food shopping?

Bacon, broccoli, tuna, bread, milk, sausages, carrots, peas, yogurt, sweet corn, biscuits, butter.

I ordered the list by creating the following four categories: Meat and fish, Vegetables, Grains, Milk products.

Then I ordered the list like this:

  • Bacon, sausages, tuna,
  • Carrots, broccoli, peas, sweet corn,
  • Bread, biscuits,
  • Milk, butter, yogurt.

Would you agree that breaking the original list of random objects, into four smaller categories, makes the original list easier to remember?

Impose a logical structure on any material you want to memorise.

The structure does not have to be categorical. It could be chronological, or in order of value, or in order of preference, or any other type of system that makes sense to you and seems to fit the information.

But whatever system you choose, the same principle applies: To make it more memorable, structure your message.

3 and 4. Imagination and Association.

All memory training is based upon using the imagination, to associate what you want to learn, with what you already know.

The different methods of memory training, are all variations on HOW you use your imagination to make the associations.

Memory experts train themselves to transform information into mental images, and then associate them to another image, forming a mental chain of images.

The chain links two items of information, and that short mental link, is the act of learning.

The short two-part link may be between any two bits of information such as:

  • A country and its capital city.
  • A person's appearance and his/her name.
  • A word and its definition.
  • A fact and a figure.
  • An English word and its foreign translation.
  • One thing on the list with the next thing on the list.

For example: Imagine you wanted to remember that the French for "some eggs" is "des oeufs"

You would need to translate the sound of des oeufs, into a visual image.

Des oeufs is pronounced, "Dayz-uff". To me, that sound reminds me of "Days off".

So, the memory pattern would be to picture yourself eating eggs on your days off.

You could picture yourself sitting in your garden, on a Sunday afternoon, eating eggs on your days off.

Some eggs = days off= des-oeufs.

Another example: Imagine you meet a woman and want to remember her name is Emma. The first thing to do is to find something visually unique about Emma that acts as a mental hook upon which to hang the association.

You notice she has a tee shirt with images of flying birds. You imagine Emma feeding birds M&Ms. Emma = M&Ms.

Whenever you see Emma you see the birds and the birds remind you of M&Ms = Emma.

By the end of the day, Emma's name has entered your long-term memory and you no longer have to use the trick, you simply have Emma's name in your "knowledge bank".

5. Repetition.

Repetition is the final aspect of memory training. In relation to your memory, the rule to remember is: Use it or lose it.

For you to keep a memory, you must use it.

If you don't use your knowledge, then it will fade. That phrase, "Use your knowledge" may mean simply repeating it to yourself, out loud if possible.

Or you could tell somebody else the French for some eggs.

Or you might ask Emma if she likes eggs: "Emma, aimez vous des oeufs?"

In order to keep the memory pattern alive, you must use it.

So, repeat the information and / or use the information, at least five times the first day you learn it.

By using the information five times the first day you learn it, it will stick in your long-term memory.

Use your memory as often as possible.

Then your memory will become world class.

The Memory Palace Technique

The Memory Palace technique is another great way to remember things, explained in our blog What is the Best Memory Training Technique?

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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