The Art of Memory

How many of us struggle to remember what we did last weekend? Using our phones and devices to recall information means that we’re losing the ability to train our brain.

Even in the Google age, remembering certain things can give you a huge advantage in your career and personal life.  You’ll definitely find an edge over others if you’re able to recall important business-related facts and figures, if you can give presentations from memory using little or no notes, if you remember foreign language vocab easily, and can recall people’s names and other things about them.

World-leading memory expert, Chester Santos, believes that we all have an amazing memory, we just need to unlock it’s potential – and our own creativity.

Chester has developed techniques for boosting your creative thinking and making the most of your knowledge retention.  Here are his top tips:

  1. A picture is worth a thousand words – take whatever you are trying to remember and turn it into a simple image you can picture in your mind’s eye. This will serve as a sort of mental cue card.  You can even take it a step further and try to draw a picture that represents the information.  Research supports that drawing and doodling helps with long-term memory, and you’ll be able to better remember your visual after drawing it.
  2. Sense it – after you have a visual, try to add additional senses to what you are seeing. Doing this will activate more areas of your brain and build more connections in your mind to the information, making it easier to retrieve later when needed.
  3. Unleash your imagination – if, as you’re reading this article, an elephant was to suddenly crash into the room and start spraying water on you with its trunk, you’d probably remember this unusual incident for the rest of your life. There is a psychological aspect to human memory.  Do your best to make your mental cue card crazy, unusual and extraordinary in some way.
  4. Story power – Stories are powerful memory aids. If you can keep the first 3 tips above in mind while creating a story, you will have an effective tool to help get new information into your long-term memory.  Let’s go through an example with the following items: monkey, iron, rope, kite, house, paper, shoe, worm, envelope, pencil.

Instead of memorising the list with brute force, try and visualise the story I describe. Picture a monkey dancing around making monkey noises.  The monkey picks up an iron.  The iron starts to fall but a rope attaches itself to the iron.  You look up the rope and see the other end attached to a kite.  The kite now crashes into a house which is covered in paper.  A shoe appears and starts to walk on the paper.  The shoe smells bad so you look inside to find a worm crawling around.  The worm jumps into an envelope and a pencil starts to write on the envelope.

Read through the story just one more time whilst visualising everything described.  See it like a movie or cartoon playing in your head.  Now, go ahead and recite all the random words from memory simple by going through the story in your mind and recalling each major object that you encounter.

  1. Review before you sleep – many studies have shown that reviewing information just before sleep causes your brain to process and solidify the information in your mind overnight. You’ll wake up the next morning knowing the information much better than you did the day before.
  2. Use it or lose it – do your best to use these tips to force yourself to commit things to memory. If you don’t use your memory, it will deteriorate over time.  The ‘use it or lose it’ principle applies but if you make it a priority to exercise your memory it will get stronger over time.  Your brain is trainable just like the body.

Chester Santos is a world leading memory skills expert, speaker and author See for more information.


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