Remember Their Names: Increase Your Returns


“I’m sorry. I’m terrible with names. Can you tell me again?” Does this sound familiar? “There are plenty of excuses for not remembering names: bad memory, poor listening, not paying attention, self-absorption, too busy, and most of all, an ‘I-Can’t-Remember-Names’ self-limiting attitude which turns out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy,” says Darlene Price, author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results.
In an article featured in Forbes, Price notes that improving the name memory skill requires a conscious effort, and that you will only improve this skill if you consider it important. “Importance” is the operative word. Here’s why it’s important to remember the names of your students.

Why You Should Remember Their Names

  • The results of a 2006 study indicate that hearing our own name increases brain activity — even in noisy environments. Increased brain activity means that your students are processing what you are telling them to do.
  • Forgetting their tells them that you don’t think they’re important. If you want to convert group lesson participants into private clients, you need to make them feel important.

Why Is It So Difficult?

The Next In LIne Effect occurs when you’re waiting for your turn to speak to your class. Researchers tested this phenomenon by placing people in small groups, and asking them take turns giving out information, then testing how much they remembered of the other group member’s details.

Each participant’s memory was fine, until they got to the details of the person who spoke right before them. Suddenly, their minds went blank. They were listening, but not paying attention. Instead, their minds were focused on what they were about to say. If you have a standard “talk” that you give your students, it’s possible that you are not listening to them as they tell you their names, and other important details.

Name Memory Methods

  • When introducing yourself to a student, make eye contact and give them your undivided attention
  • Repeat their name out loud. “Welcome to the resort, Susan?”
  • Use their name to ask a question. “Have you skied before, Susan?”
  • Ask them a question about their name. “Do you prefer Joe or Joey?”
  • If it’s an unusual name, ask them to spell it. “Kalinda is so a pretty name. How do you spell it?”
  • Mentally draw a vivid connection between the name and something familiar to you. “Kalinda is investigating ways to ski. Kalinda on _The Good Wife is an investigator.
  • Use rhyme and alliteration. “This is Joe, he likes the snow. This is Jerry from Jersey. This is Sweet Judy Blue Eyes.

Most important: Make a commitment to remembering your student’s names. They’ll show their appreciation by coming back to your class.

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