‘The Memory Man’ shares tips for recalling names

  • Posted: Sunday, September 1, 2013 1:14 a.m.
    UPDATED: Sunday, September 1, 2013 1:15 a.m.
Gilbert Sherr known as ‘The Memory Man’ gives a lecture to a group at Trinity Oaks on Thursday.
Gilbert Sherr known as ‘The Memory Man’ gives a lecture to a group at Trinity Oaks on Thursday.

We’ve all done it — met someone, struck up a conversation and walked away without remembering their name.

“The Memory Man” Gilbert Sherr gave local residents a crash course on memory techniques during two presentations at Trinity Oaks last week.


“Most people believe names are harder to remember than faces,” he said. “But it is my belief that names are no harder to remember than faces if you use specific strategies.”

Sherr said one of the easiest things to do is to actually listen when people say their names.

“Names must be sensed to be remembered,” he said. “To be remembered, one must pay attention.

“Hear their names clearly and distinctly when you are introduced.”

Sherr said after you get someone’s name, repeat it back.

“If you have the name wrong you will be corrected without embarrassment,” he said.

Be sure to repeat the name four to seven times during the conversation, Sherr said.

“Unless you have the name coming out of your mouth and going into your ear you can’t remember it,” he said.

Sherr said repeating the name helps gets it from the short-term to the long term, which is not easily disrupted and remains relatively permanent.

“I call short term-memory the forgetful memory,” he said. “Your short-term memory throws out everything that is not important,” he said.

In order to keep the name in your long-term memory, which has unlimited capacity, Sherr said it’s important to come up with some type of filing system.

“Long term memories are stored by organization,” he said.

Associating names with something familiar is one way to organize them. Sherr gave several examples such as thinking of a man named “Jim” in the gym, picturing a woman named “Ruby” wearing Ruby slippers and imagining a man named “Ken” playing with Barbie dolls.

“If you can make names fun, they are easier to remember,” he said.

Another simple way to remember names is by examining them to find out their story or origin.

“If you know what a name means or where it came from, you’re more likely to care about it,” he said.

Sherr said if those strategies don’t work for them, people shouldn’t fret.

“There are ways to cheat, I’ve been doing it for years,” he said.

Introducing yourself first is one way to cheat. By doing so you don’t get distracted, Sherr said.

Writing names down is another no-nonsense way to cheat, that way you have a point of reference.

Sherr said reviewing names and photos is a good way to remember names for functions such as family gatherings and class reunions.

“When my wife and I go to a family reunion, we spend the time in the car on the way there reviewing names so we won’t be embarrassed,” he said.

Creatively using partners is another way to cheat. Sherr said his wife will often step in and introduce herself to his acquaintances at social gatherings, so that the other person will repeat their name.

“There’s nothing wrong with going over to someone else in the room and asking another person’s name,” Sherr said. “That way the person has no idea you can’t remember.”

Salisbury resident Martha Salerno said she gained a plethora of knowledge from Sherr’s presentation.

“I’m glad I came,” she said.

Ken Boucher and his wife, Barbie, traveled to the presentation from Kannapolis.

“I’ve always had trouble remember names,” he said. “It’s going to help me to repeat them and to actually spend time talking to people so that I know things about them and feel more invested in remembering who they are.”

Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.

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