10 or 20 years ago we were traveling the information highway. These days, our path is almost non-linear. We are around an ultrasonic pinball machine that is thrown with bits and bytes, tweets, pings and shouts. “We are outsourcing our memories to help manage this onslaught,” said Jim Quick, founder of Kwik Learning, a speed reading and memory booster program. The phone number is stored in our smartphone address book. Sales leads are stored in the cloud. And who cares about street signs when our navigation systems chart the most efficient route home? The problem is that research shows that our reliance on external search engines and the like may weaken our ability to recall facts, figures, and letters. With all we need to know, we can let our memory muscles relax with just a few taps away. And we pay for it. “Two costly words in business are what I forgot,” Quick says. Boosting your memory does not require a new program or some advanced tools. In workshops he has given to Fortune 500 companies, academics, and small business owners for nearly two decades, Kwik (yes, that’s his real name and pronounced “fast”) relies on old methods like visualization and new twists. Speed reading techniques developed by the latest research on how the brain works. “There is no such thing as a good memory or a bad memory,” Quick says. “There is only one trained memory and one untrained memory.”
Here’s how to start training your memory.
MOM Knows Best: A Memory Mnemonic
Motivation: When meeting a new person, take a moment and ask yourself, why do I want to remember that person’s name? If you cannot name a reason to remember, you probably will not.
Observation: Remembering names or other information is often not a matter of memorization, but of attention. Take a moment to silence your inner conversation. When introducing yourself to people or giving a talk, focus and really listen.
Mechanics: These are techniques, tips and tricks for remembering names and information. Although these step-by-step memory tools are very important, they are at the bottom because if you are not motivated and do not follow, the best mechanics will not help.
Picture this: Never forget a name
It’s an unpleasant moment in a business to meet someone you have met before. There is panic when you reach out to shake hands – or worse, introduce him to a colleague. Forgot your name? This is an accident that can ruin a relationship. “It’s hard to show someone that you care about their business when you don’t even care enough to remember their name,” Quick says.
The faulty solution to memory is associative name: connecting those names to unforgettable images. Quick says images create memories that are easier to retrieve than words alone. Kwik, who specializes in memory science, likes to say that his method is as easy as PIE.
Choose a place on the person’s face.
Imagine his name
Combine the two in an image that is action, exaggeration, and irrationality.
Here’s how to work in real life. You meet Joyce at the Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Choose a place for Joyce’s face. For example, green eyes.
Think of his name as a “sound-like” image. For “Joyce” it may be “juice”.
Cover Joyce’s green eyes with juice by visualizing pouring orange juice into Joyce’s eyes. (Yes, this is an absurd image, but the point is: “You are more likely to remember unusual images than ordinary images.”
Then you meet Christopher.
Choose a place: his beard.
Imagine the name: Christmas tree.
Combine the two: Imagine Christopher’s beard as a Christmas tree decorated with little elves.
A couple named Karen and Matt come.
Choose a location: Karen red hair; Matt eyebrows.
Imagine the names: carrot; Mat in
Tie the two together: Karen carrots come out of her hair, and Matt’s eyebrows are woven into a rug.
Skills in this method take time (of course Quick says not as much as you might think). At the same time, practice is effective. “Even if this technique doesn’t work properly, it still affects your focus and interaction when meeting people,” Quick says.
Take notes of the whole brain
When you are in a workshop where, for example, you use social media to build your business, or you are reading or listening to a book on a similar topic, the right and left hemispheres of your brain process information in two ways: the logical left. A hemisphere that is an analytical and critical thinker – pays attention to the actual content presented. The Ruminant Truth – our intuitive, creative, and visual aspect – responds to this content with immediate emotions, questions, and inspirations about how to use information in your life.
Kwik suggests that you let each part of your brain take notes in its own way. So at the end of the presentation, instead of notes that might be difficult to interpret – did the speaker say that, or is that what I was thinking? – You will have both a summary of the content and the beginning. An action plan
All you have to do is take a piece of parchment paper and divide it into two columns. At the top left column, write Capture. This is where you take your traditional note-taking – Highlights Tips, quotes, facts and statistics presented in a social media workshop or in a book:
Nearly one in five American consumers has scanned a QR code on a smartphone.
• 665 million people use Facebook daily.
People between the ages of 55 and 64 have the highest population growth on Twitter.
YouTube has 1 billion unique monthly visitors.
Label the right column of the creation. Here you can record your impressions of what you are listening to and start building on what you have just learned:
1. Talk to Joey about the QR code on new business cards.
2. Draw the tweet!
3. YouTube Storm Strategy on Tuesday Mtg.
ABC of Smart Reading
Kwik likes to quote Woody Allen ironically: “I took a speed reading course where you dragged your finger down and I could read War and Peace in 20 minutes.
“This is about Russia.”
In other words, if you speed up your reading tenfold, but keep only a fraction of what you read, you are wasting your time. A better alternative is what Kwik calls “whole-brain reading,” in which both speed and memorization increase by engaging your right and left hemispheres in reading.
To get started, you need to prepare yourself for an optimal reading experience. “All learning depends on the government,” Quick said. “I’m not trying to get new information before running my state.”
Start by eliminating external distractions. Choose good lighting; Natural sunlight is the best that you can emulate with full-spectrum lamps. Set the room to your ideal temperature – not so hot that it makes you drowsy, not so cold that you think you should take off your jacket or not. Accept the inconveniences. Say, for example, you can hear the noise from a construction site at the bottom of the block. Do your best to minimize such distraction – use noise-canceling headphones or play baroque music. At 50 to 80 beats per minute, baroque music – such as Bach, Handel, or Telemann – can generate alpha brainwaves for deep focus. Take a deep breath, relax and try to accept the distractions that you cannot eliminate.
Next, you want to calm down your mind over and over again – what meditators call the “monkey mind.” You’re trying to sing Tolstoy or beginner’s leadership skills, and your monkey mind is eating pizza or pita for lunch, the song Motown that your favorite American Idol rival has to choose for the next round, and whether you have to choose. Jumps. If you had half a million dollars to buy a new car, you would go for an Aston Martin or a Lamborghini. You can say this to the right hemisphere of your brain.
Before revealing the trick of speed reading Kwik, it is helpful to know a little about the connection between mind and body. “Our brains and bodies are interconnected,” Quick says. The left hemisphere of the brain controls the functions of the right half of the body. Right brain, left half body functions. In other words, the left hand knows what your right brain does.
So here’s a simple trick for smarter reading: While reading, slide your left index finger – or a pointer in your left hand – under each line. Traditional speed reading training also uses the marking strategy as a way to focus attention, but does not specify which hand to use, a correction that is necessary for the Kwik method. “When you draw with your left hand, you engage the right side of the brain, which wants to distract you because it does not engage,” says Quick. You can think of underlining as giving a smurf toy to a naughty toddler.
The result: According to Kwik, you will increase your reading and comprehension speed by 25 to 50 percent. This intuitive way of walking with online materials also works. If you are reading with an iPad or e-reader, use the auto helmet as a pointer instead of your finger (the pointer does not actually need to touch the screen, it can be placed on top of it). If you are studying on a desktop computer, use your left-hand mouse to draw a line.
Drawing will feel uncomfortable at first, but keep going. It is generally believed that a person needs 21 consecutive days to do something to develop a habit. Quick suggests practicing every day for 20 minutes for three weeks to a month.
Location is important: The Key to Giving a Presentation without Notes
The ancient Greeks may have relied on the “Lucy” method when they needed to remember to extract olive oil from the market. The memory trick is attributed to the poet Simonides of Ceos. One night in the fifth century BC, he recited a victory poem in honor of a Thessaloniki nobleman. Then he summoned a messenger and left the banquet hall. As he left, the roof of the hall collapsed and crushed the guests. It was left to Simonides, the only survivor, to help identify victims who were unidentifiable. Simonides closed his eyes and reconstructed the banquet hall in his mind, depicting where each guest had sat before the catastrophe. Then he went inside the hall and took the bereaved relatives to the remains of their loved ones.
Fortunately, Lucy’s method is not catastrophic. To use this technique, you create a mind map of a place you know well and then store the information you want to remember on top of various items in the room. There are three important rules for using positions effectively, Kwik says.
1. Choose real things. Corner lights in the room, not the corners themselves.
2. Choose items that are big, not small things.
3. Choose items that are unique: a chair, not a set of chairs.
These index items are the hooks on which you want to hang the information. Next, associate each milestone with an eye-catching visual image to an item in your memory list. If you need to pick up milk, laundry detergent and paper towels, for example, you might visualize a giant container of milk crushing your coffee table, spilling detergent foam from your sofa and your flat screen TV in Wrapped paper towels.
If you speak at a social media conference, the method works the same way. Suppose you have 10 key communication points. They are about hashtags, Tumblr, Facebook, Yelp and so on. This time you want to add a room – kitchen – so you can connect five points to the living room and five points to the kitchen. For hashtags, you might think of a large pot of corn beef pouring over your stove. For Tumblr, gymnasts who spin on your kitchen sink. For Facebook, a close-up of your family on the big magnets and the fridge speaker. And for Yelp, they yell at a Shihuahuas junk that gets stuck in your dishwasher like dirty dishes.
Why does this brutal method work so well? Remember that the brain is much better at remembering visual images than lists or dots full of words. We are especially good at creating spatial memories – where objects are in space (a room, a street).
When you recall your visuals, what you do is “walk” to a place or path you know intimately, such as the bedroom or the shops you pass through the bus station every day, and collect those vivid images. You are linked to any milestone.
In the case of the bedroom, clockwise is the “path” you have chosen. If you are imagining the actual layout of the room, the easiest thing to do is to remember what is in the room. So when you create those visuals, you “stand” at the entrance to your room, and when moving around the room, you choose large objects as hooks. If you select stores that you pass along the bus station route, you create a memory map that tracks your route – linking the first point of your talk to the first store you pass through, and so on. You can even use your limbs as a path, move from toes to knees to waist to chest, shoulders, etc. and then do a mental body scan to recall your visuals. And again, these would mean that you have to spend for these processes.
Now when you speak, you are calling out the plan you have created. With each incarnation, moving clockwise, you confidently address your points and impress your audience by delivering your speech without notes.