Have you ever looked at someone and thought, “I can remember their face, just not their name?”
For Ron White of Dallas, it was a piece of cake reciting the names of more than 100 Cleburne Chamber of Commerce members he met for the first time at the quarterly luncheon on Wednesday.
Before guests had lunch, White mingled with them and asked their name. He later went around the room and correctly stated each person’s name.
White said everyone has a good memory, they just need to learn how to train themselves using a five-step approach: Focus, file, picture, action and review.
His strategy is part of his new memory-training program, “Black Belt Memory,” where he gives tips on how to develop a quick, sharp and healthy brain.
To achieve focus, White said good nutrition and exercise are key.
“When I was training for the 2009 USA Memory Championship I lost 20 pounds,” he said. “People are like, ‘Dude, are you training for a nerd tournament or a marathon?’ But the better fit your body is the better it is for your brain.
“One of the most overlooked brain foods is water; a dehydrated brain can’t focus. So be hydrated and drink plenty of water. That’s your first easiest step to be into having a better functioning memory.”
When meeting someone for the first time, White said you literally need to focus only on their name.
“You walk into a room and you see Frankie right here,” he said. “And as you’re walking towards Frankie, you’re thinking to yourself, ‘What does he think of me? Have I seen him before? What business deals are we going to talk about?’ You say, “Hi, my name is Ron.’ He says his name is Frankie and you never hear it because you weren’t focused. You weren’t paying attention.
“Replace all these questions with one question and ask it over and over again as you’re walking towards him. Think, ‘What is his name? What is his name? What is his name? What is his name? What is his name?’”
White said memories of names — and everything else — is filed away in your brain for later use.
He said you would never store files on your computer without putting them in folders, so why would you expect the human computer to do the same?
“Let’s place the name in a file to retrieve it later easily,” he said. “But what is a file for a name? Well, it’s not going to be an actual folder, but instead a unique feature on their face. For example, if you meet a person with a large nose, well, their nose becomes their file for you.”
When you are focused and have picked out something to file, White said you will need an image to go with it.
“Your mind thinks in pictures,” he said. “How many times have you said, “I am so good with faces,’ or, ‘I never forget a face?’ The reason you remember a face and not a name is you saw the face. You never saw the name.”
White said to think of a picture when they tell you their name, like the Mona Lisa painting for someone named Lisa. Or a picture of a stove for someone named Steve.
With that imagery, White said you then need to take action.
“So in regards to remembering names and faces, this means if the name is Steve and you see a stove, you don’t just see a stove but it needs to be cooking something,” he said. “Cooking it so hot the person turns red or even catches fire. You might have to magnify the action and emotion in order to recall the name.”
The final step is to review.
“When you have first met someone and are leaving ask yourself, ‘What was their file? What was their name? What is the picture for this name?’” he said. “And see the image with tons of action and emotion on their feature. This is how you review. At the end of the day repeat this process by asking, ‘Who did I meet today?’”
In 2010, University of Texas scientists conducted an MRI on White’s brain as he memorizes and found that 35 percent more of his brain is activated when he memorizes than the average person.
His goal is to help everyone meet and remember 100 new people in next 12 months.