Developing Memory Skills

Part of communicating effectively is assimilating, remembering, and recalling information, and turning that information into usable knowledge.

In the Dale Carnegie program, we help participants build on their ability to gather and use the information that they collect in their travels. We do this by helping them leverage how the mind handles this information.

Here are some basic concepts that scientists and psychologist have learned about our memory over the past years:

  1. We remember things and events that are most recent. So if someone recited a list of items for you to remember, you would find it easier to remember the last items, or the most recent items on that list.
  2. We tend to remember things and events at the beginning of a session. Again, if someone recited a list of items for you to remember, you would find it easier to remember the first few items on the list, the first ones listed.
  3. We tend to remember things and events that are outlandish or they stand out from their surrounding environment. Sticking with the recited list, you will easily recall items on the list that stand out from the rest of the list.
  4. We tend to easily remember things that we can visualize and have a real world component. Abstract concepts are more difficult to remember. So you will find it easier to remember “flag” from a list of words over “freedom”.
  5. We tend to remember vivid, vibrant images over dull and static ones. The more specific the image, the easier it is for you to remember.
  6. We tend to remember emotionally charged images more easily than those that have no emotional component.

In developing our memory capabilities, one technique we use is memory linking allowing participants to create lists of information and arrange them for easy recall. We use several additional basic observations here:


  • The mind works best when thinking in images.

  • The more exaggerated the picture, the easier it is to recall.

  • Making connections between images and linking them together maximizes memory retention and makes them easier to recall.

Throughout the Dale Carnegie program, we build on the concept that the mind manipulates images, and in turn use that concept to remember names, enhance our human relations, create presentations, and communicate effectively with our peers.

So how can you make use of this immediately?

  1. When setting up information for recall, use images instead of words.
  2. When trying to remember a difficult item, concept, or picture, establish a relationship of the item to something that you can easily remember and recall.
  3. If you are in a study session, break the session up into smaller pieces to take advantage of multiple beginnings and endings.
  4. When remembering a person’s name, exaggerate a specific observation about that person and link it to their name.
  5. When creating a presentation, make it memorable by using colorful and vivid imagery.

What techniques do you use to remember name, faces, and events? Join us on Facebook and tell us what you do.

Larry Prevost
Dale Carnegie Instructor, Social Media Evangelist
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