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How to remember people’s names


Of all the training techniques we deal with in depth during our Train the Trainer Training courses, there's one very simple issue that comes up time and time again - remembering people's names. This is embarrassing and can affect your confidence, as well as damaging your authority - that applies to managers and leaders too, not just trainers. The other side of the coin is that trainers who do remember delegates' names will make them feel valued and encourage their engagement.

There's a handy four-part technique known as LAER which we recommend:

  • LISTEN: This is an obvious one - but listen out for the introduction of someone's name and don't worry about asking them to repeat it if you miss it. Don't be afraid to write names down if you're a visual learner. Also, be observant in general and notice characterising mannerisms, facial expressions or dress-style - reinforcing the unique identity of that individual.
  • ASSOCIATE: This is a popular technique used to aid memory; when you're told a person's name commit it to memory with an associated image or idea. Perhaps you can associate them with someone famous who shares their name. Or if it's an unusual name perhaps associate it with a rhyme, or break it down into syllables and associate these with something.
  • EXAGGERATE: No one is ever going to find out how you've memorised their name - unless you decide to tell them! Therefore don't be afraid to associate them with something funny or bizarre - these associations have a much greater chance of staying in your head that way.
  • REPETITION: Repeating someone's name is simple but effective. You should try to use it as soon as possible e.g. "Nice to meet you David", "So where did you travel from today David?", "So David, what are your thoughts on...?", "Have you met Colin, David?" or even "Do you prefer Dave or David?". This is not the same as saying it under your breath - you are more likely to retain the name if you use it in a real situation.

Overall, remembering names is about your attitude - most of us are bad at it, but when we try we can do a lot better! Does anyone have any other tips for remembering names?

See these Free Leadership Skills Resources and Train the Trainer Resources for more tips on training and leadership.

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