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Any reliable mnemonic tricks for remembering information on the spot?

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Question: “I answer a high volume of phone calls while handling multiple other duties.  Because my time greeting guests is so brief and repeatedly interrupted by calls, I sometimes have trouble remembering their names. I appreciate any advice or tricks to help me with this dilemma!” – OMM, Administrative Assistant

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Renee Conley October 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm

These are all great tips if you have long enough to focus on the guests. An additional back-up might be if there was a sign-in guest book. You could peek at the names after they walk away. Or you could look at the calendar of the person they are meeting with and note the names that way. This would give you a chance to remember the names After you are off the phone.


Amy C. September 7, 2012 at 8:51 am

Every year, our department of over 300 people has two or three events that we’re all in attendance for. Since name tags are mandatory, I usually go through the photos afterward to read the names. This might be borderline creepy, but for those that I see and work with regularly, I put their pictures in a private “yearbook” to reference later. It has come in handy more than a few times, mostly for others, and especially for new employees. Some of the managers also send Christmas cards that include a picture with staff names, those are nice to have, too. Good luck!


Sandi September 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Try to find something about their looks that rhyme with their name. For instance Nancy might have ‘fancy’ hair. Or that muscular guy named Rick (brick). I took a class over 25 years ago and I remember every single person in that class due to this type of “remembering”. It also helps to repeat the name out loud once they’ve said it.


Christian September 5, 2012 at 6:53 am

When it comes to mnemonic devices, I use the same one for EVERYTHING, it’s the one from junior high where you take the first letter of every word you need to remember and put them together to form a new word. In school it was ROY G. BIV to remember the colors of the spectrum. It works well for every list of things you need to remember.


Michael September 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm

When it comes to names, I quickly repeat the word two or three times in my head, really exaggerating the sounds in a kind of funny way. It makes the word embed itself in my mind quicker!


Holly Heinz September 4, 2012 at 8:25 am

It sounds silly, but I immediately associate every new name that I have to temporarily remember with a celebrity by the same name! I have an interior “store” of names that rises instantly to the surface for every person I meet. It’s a trick I learned when I worked retail, and it still works!


Michelle August 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I agree with Lisa, I always jot things like this down on a notepad right next to my phone. For keeping track of “in person” guests I also jot down something about their outfit next to their name. Such as Sue – red sweater or Bob – blue tie. Good luck!


Lisa August 30, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I guess my solution is pretty simple: I write down things like this (names of visitors, etc.), as soon as someone tells me his or her name. That seems like the most efficient way to keep track of things (and makes you look efficient, too!). Just yesterday, I had six or seven phone calls in a row, on multiple phone lines. There’s no way I could have kept track of things without writing them down.

FYI, I also do that when receiving an incoming telephone call; I have a small notebook that I keep by the phone to write down the name of the caller at the beginning of the call. The notebook almost functions like an informal telephone log – I’ve gone back later to check things like names and telephone numbers days later. It’s pretty handy!


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