The USA Memory Championship is on March 16 in New York City! Have you trained your memory? Here are some helpful tips.
Names and Faces
When you meet someone new, look for a distinguishing feature on their face — big nose, bushy eyebrows, earring, dimple — whatever jumps out at you first. That will be your anchor point where you store information about the person. Let’s say you are trying to remember the name of the 2012 USA Memory Champion, Nelson Dellis. Come up with an association — Nelson Mandela or Nelson from the Simpsons — and stick that image on the person’s distinguishing feature. Say Nelson has a large nose. Stick Nelson Mandela on top of his nose, or hanging out a nostril. Entwine the name and feature with a vivid image. When you see that person again and that feature jumps out at you, you can recall your image and remember their name.
Quotes and Poetry
To memorize poetry — which, like names and faces, numbers and cards, is a section of the USA Memory Championship — the key is to group phrases, make images out of them and store them on a journey. If the line is, “where do balloons go,” picture yourself standing on your bed holding several red balloons saying, “Where do balloons go?” If the next line is “when their strings are cut,” picture yourself walking to your closet, looking at your watch and cutting strings with scissors. After you’re done visualizing, go back and write out the poem a few times to build it into muscle memory.
Numbers and Cards
Because numbers are abstract, it is recommended to use a system where you translate groups of numbers into pictures.
Here’s a tip from Nelson Dellis:
I translate numbers into letters and associate them with a famous name. I designate the numbers 1-9 to the letters at that numerical position in the alphabet. 1=A, 2=B, etc. (0=O because it looks like an O). For example, 11 is AA, so that could be Andre Agassi, 27 is BG, so that could be Bill Gates, 53 is EC, so that could be Eric Clapton. When I see pairs of numbers I don’t see the numbers, rather, I see vivid, colorful people – it’s a lot easier to remember that way. With cards, competitors do a similar thing with the number and suit. For example, the 4 of diamonds could be Donald Duck. To remember a string of numbers, take a journey — Agassi playing tennis on your bed, Gates hiding in your closet with a computer, Clapton strumming in your hallway.
Now it’s your turn. Give your memory a workout by ditching the “list” and trying to memorize your shopping list the next time you head to the store.