The Trick To Remembering Multiple People’s Names


When you meet people, especially a lot of people at once like a new workplace, it can be hard to remember their names at first. Here’s an easy exercise that will help you to retain this information.

According to Charan Ranganath, the director of the Memory and Plasticity Program at the University of California, Davis, the simplest explanation as to why you forget is just that you aren’t all that interested. He spoke to Time about the issue in a story published this week.

You don’t know that the person you’ve just met is potentially your new best friend. Instead, right now they’re someone that you might not ever meet again after this interaction. Why waste valuable brain space remembering their name?

If you’re having trouble remembering someone’s name, Ranganath suggests trying a mnemonic device to help you remember. So, you might remember Walter as “Walter the Writer” or “Bob the Beatboxer”.

When you can associate someone’s name with something else, then it will be easier for you to recall that name later on, and you’ll trick your brain. He also recommends testing yourself on the name a few seconds into the conversation and a few minutes in, and trying to use that person’s name in conversation a few times to help the same stick.

And if all else fails, you can always ask the person for their name again down the line.


  • By the time I know they are a writer I have already forgotten their name, and those were easy english names.

    If I am introduced to a group of people, I just try to remember the person who is closest to me, the one I am most likely to talk to first if its crowded.

    No one expects you to remember their names at first. Sure its nice, and really important if you are a salesman. But after you have talked for a while and have some rapport, and a reason to want to know their name, no-one is offended if you ask it. Usually they didn’t catch yours either.

    As for those foreign names, if its sounds impossible, ask them to spell it, sometimes it helps to formulate it in your mind, and no-one is offended because you really want to know their name.

    • By the time I know they are a writer I have already forgotten their name, and those were easy english names. I don’t think the author intends for you to use their actual profession, just something that can help you stick the name, hence the alliteration in the examples.
      Though I imagine if that’s how you get it to work for you and Walter turns out to be a construction worker rather than a writer, you might end up confusing yourself on their occupation. At least you remembered their name.

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