Many of us need to memorize lists of words – whether they’re names, speeches, or languages. But what’s the best way to do so? In this episode, I teach why you remember things and a simple technique to help you memorize lists.
When I repeat lists of hundreds of words, I do it not to impress you but to express to you what’s really possible.
There is no such thing as a good or bad memory – just a trained or untrained one.
A graduate student asked how to memorize lists of words in our private Facebook group. But it’s not just students who have to memorize words. If you need to remember a speech, names, a script, or another language, you need to remember words too.
Can you memorize these 10 words?
Don’t write them down!
10 Words to Learn
- Fire Hydrant.
Write it down: how many did you remember in order?
Bonus Tip: Train under the conditions you want to perform in!
Rote repetition doesn’t work.
- This is the most common AND most ineffective way to learn.
- It takes too much time. You need to make your learning more intensive.
Genius leaves clues.
- There’s always a method behind the magic, including your own…even if you’re not consciously aware of it.
- What words did you remember? Why did you remember them?
Qualities of Kwik Recall
- Did you remember fire hydrant? It’s probably because it was first. Primacy says you tend to remember things in the beginning.
- If you remembered sign, it’s probably because it was last. Recency says you tend to remember things near the end or those that are recent.
- Maybe you remembered balloon, batteries, barrel, and board. This is because it was chunked into a pattern of ‘b’s. Organization helps memory.
- You might have remembered diamond if you had an emotion around the word. Emotion increases intensity and helps you remember.
- Did you remember Nightrider? It’s because it stands out. When something is different, it’s easier to remember.
What you didn’t remember didn’t have those qualities.
Now, take a deep breath, and follow this story:
- Imagine you are in your neighborhood and you see a fire hydrant. Tied to the fire hydrant is a gigantic helium balloon. What color is the balloon? Say it out loud.
- The balloon is so large that the fire hydrant begins to rise up in the air. As it floats, all these batteries come flying out of nowhere and pop the balloon. Look at the batteries. What brand of batteries are they? What size are they? Say it out loud.
- When you look, the batteries are coming from a gigantic wooden barrel on the ground. What’s unique about the barrel is on the side of the barrel is a surfboard, and rolling down the board is a 64-carat diamond. It falls off the edge and lands right through the sunroof of Nightrider’s car.
- The car parks between two oxen. You get out of the car. The oxen have terrible breath, so you use toothpaste to brush their teeth. What brand of toothpaste is it? Say it out loud.
- When you’re done, you throw the toothpaste at a gigantic neon sign that says Kwik Brain. It explodes.
- Mentally walk through from the fire hydrant to the sign. Say each word out loud.
- What worked for you? What didn’t? Remember: there’s no such thing as failure…just failure to learn.
- Can you say the list backwards?
Now, how can you apply this technique to technical information? Let’s imagine that you’re in high school and need to memorize the periodic table for chemistry class.
First 10 Elements of the Periodic Table
Turn everything into a picture!
- Even if you don’t know what the item is, you can imagine what it sounds like.
- What can you picture for hydrogen? It sounds like hydrant.
- How can you connect it to helium? You might imagine a balloon.
The Chain-Link Method
You have one link in a chain (hydrant) and a second link (balloon). Now, you must tie them together using action and exaggeration…so maybe the balloon lifts the fire hydrant into the air.
It doesn’t have to be exact. Your picture only needs to be a trigger that reminds you of the true information.
nce you know the true information, the pictures disappear.
Link the other elements!
- Lithium is used for batteries.
- Beryllim sounds like barrel.
- Board reminds you of boron.
- Diamond reminds you of carbon.
- This could easily be a car full of bon-bons. The right image is whatever works for you.
- Nightrider reminds you of nitrogen.
- Ox reminds you of oxygen.
- Toothopaste reminds you of fluoride, which reminds you of flourine.
- The sign that explodes is made of neon.
- How can you use this technique to remember the information that’s important to you?