4 Tips to Improve Your Memory

December 3, 2014

Helping Organizations to Be More Successful

Wouldn’t it be helpful in your career to remember the names of everyone you meet, and to give a presentation or speech without notes?  Chester Santos offers some memory tips to help you remember those and much more.

“In any profession, you seem like much more of an expert in your field if you can recall important information rather than having to always look it up,” says Santos.  “If you have mastered your field and you are the expert, then you shouldn’t have to rely so much on looking everything up. That makes you seem like a novice, not an expert.  Another thing to consider is that whether or not there is a connection between memory and intelligence, there is definitely a perception of that.  People who have a razor sharp memory are perceived as more intelligent, and we always want to hire the more intelligent person.

Santos’ clients include businesses and organizations from various industries, including finance, technology, medicine, and law.  “Many trial attorneys take my workshop because, when they lose eye contact with the jury, they’ve lost the jury’s attention,” Santos says. “Also you aren’t going to be as persuasive if you are always pausing to look through a mass of notes.”

Santos believes that memory techniques are especially important now in the technology age where people are less reliant upon human memory. “The brain is very trainable,” Santos says. “The more you have your brain do something over and over, the better it gets at doing it. The opposite is also true. The use-it-or-lose-it principle is definitely applicable to the brain. We all used to be able to remember the phone numbers of friends and family. Now no one knows anyone’s phone number. Things have gotten so bad that a lot of people don’t even remember their own phone numbers.

“My most popular training involves memory fundamentals that improve your memory in general. Most of the techniques I teach originated with the ancient Greeks.” One of the core methods that Santos teaches is known as the Method of Loci (“loci” meaning location). The Roman orator Cicero used this technique to give lengthy speeches from memory without any notes. It was known then as the Roman Room method. This technique involves using a familiar venue such as your own home to create visual imagery that represents things you want to remember. Santos explains that, in order to memorize a speech or presentation, you can choose several locations from your own home, and then link images that remind you in some way of each topic or section in your presentation. When you want to remember the topics, you just take a mental walk through your residence and see the images that you placed at the different locations.

“These techniques magnify anyone’s memory many times over because you are using more areas of your brain,” says Santos.  Scientific studies support that notion. When Santos appeared in an October 2012 PBS Nova ScienceNow segment, “How Smart Can We Get?” he trained the host of the show, David Pogue, in how to use the Method of Loci memory technique. Pogue memorized 40 words in approximately ten minutes by using images connected to his own living room. In order to remember some of the words, Santos told Pogue to, “Imagine that, on top of this piano, there is a monkey dancing on that piano. And this monkey picks up a giant iron.”  Santos later tells Pogue, “We tend to remember things more if there is something interesting actually happening, rather than just a stagnant object.”  Neuroscientist Dr. John Golfinos of New York University Langone Medical Center, explained during the segment that memory champions can remember large amounts of information with these techniques because they are using the parts of the brain that process language as well as images, so employing other parts of the brain makes their memories stronger.

Recognizing the importance of scientific support for his memory training, Santos offers programs along with Dr. Adam Gazzaley, Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Gazzaley explains the science of memory and then Santos discusses the practical benefits of memory training in any career.

Clearly, memory techniques can help boost productivity for anyone in their business or personal life. Recently, Santos discovered that corporations might also want to get into the memory game. “I brought the first ever US corporate team to the USA Memory Championships,” Santos said. “I do one-on-one memory coaching with Mike Faith, the CEO of, and he saw the benefit of memory training in his career.” Faith believed in the value of memory training so much that he asked Santos to train his employees to compete in the USA Memory Championship this year. Santos says that he started a trend because other corporations have already entered for next year.

Memory is fundamental to learning, so memory training and brain fitness are invaluable tools in the workplace, and who knows where the next corporate memory champion will come from? But it’s not all about competing against others. When you can improve your personal memory, you are a winner in any arena.

Here is a list of his basic and specific memory training tips to jump-start your memory.

Basic Memory Tips

  1. Attach vivid visual images to information that you want to remember.
  2. Establish a connection between new information and a familiar location, such as your home or office. Use this for remembering lists, presentations, and speech topics.
  3. Involve additional senses, including hearing, taste, touch, and smell to assist in committing facts to memory. This aids in the process of encoding information into your brain.
  4. Practice relying upon your memory–and not technology–to recall telephone numbers and other information. This will help re-program your brain to become more accustomed to remembering.

How to Remember Names

Everyone likes to hear his or her name, and it’s a great way to get ahead in business. Try these techniques and names will be more than just on the tip of your tongue. Associate an image with the name of someone you want to remember. So if someone has the name “Jill,” imagine a hill and someone jumping up the hill. Try linking another sensory cue to names such as sense of smell or hearing. When you meet someone, notice the scent they are wearing or the tone of their voice.  If anything stands out, link it with the name. For example if a woman is wearing a sweet-smelling perfume, link the word sweet with the name, “Sweet Sue.” If someone has a nasal voice use that with the name, “Nosey Jim.”

How to Remember a List

Imagine there is a grocery list you need to remember. Some of the items are milk, eggs, and cereal. The best way to remember these items is to visualize them, but in an unusual way. For instance, think of a carton of milk the size of a building, with eggs flying out of the windows. When the eggs splatter on the ground, cereal pours out of them.  In order to cement the list in your mind, create a story surrounding the images and repeat it to yourself several times.

How to Memorize a Speech or Presentation

In order to memorize a speech or presentation, you can use the same techniques for remembering a list. Connect an image with each topic or point in your material. For a particularly long speech or presentation, the Method of Loci works well. Just select a familiar location, such as your home or office, and attach visual spots in that location to each topic.

Picture your living room and take a walk around it in your mind linking each piece of furniture, art, and other objects to the points you want to make. It’s best to use vivid imagery when making these connections so that you have the best chance of remembering the information.

For more information on Chester Santos’ presentations and training go to

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Improve your communication skills with the help of more AMA resources and seminars.

About The Author

Chester Santos, 2008 USA Memory Champion, travels around the country speaking to groups– from entrepreneurs to business executives to Harvard graduate students – on how to learn simple memory techniques to help one excel at work and in everyday life.


  1. avatar

    Your blog was very useful. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. avatar

    I really enjoyed your article on Memory Tips. I work in a hospital and remembering peoples names is a plus and you are right customers really enjoy being called by name. I think they feel special and that they are a special. I know especially in Health Care patients get nervous and anxious about what the results of their visit is. It does lighten the load a little when you call them by name when they enter the office and a smile goes a long way. I must be doing something right I have been in customer service for 18 years in the same company.

Leave a Comment