Memory Skills

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Imagine the advantage that improved memory skills would give you in everyday situations such as business meetings and cocktail parties. Have you ever been introduced to a new acquaintance, only to forget his or her name in a matter of seconds? You may have tried saying the person's name aloud when shaking hands ("It's nice to meet you, Barney.") or even sat there muttering the name over and over in order to drill it into your head ("Betty, Betty, Betty, Betty, Betty..."). Of course, seconds later you're introduced to Fred and Wilma, and you immediately forget Barney and Betty's names.

Too many people are resigned to these lapses in memory and feel they have no recourse. They take comfort in assuming that other people have similar difficulties remembering names instead of actively working to improve their own memory skills. Many of these folks are thus surprised to learn that there are concrete skills that can help them expand their own internal hard drives, as it were.

Improving Memory Skills through Mnemonics

Mnemonic devices are strategies used to help us remember information. Typically, these are rhymes, jingles, or sayings such as "I after E, except after C, or when pronounced 'ei' as in neighbor or weigh." Math students use mnemonics such as "Please excuse my dear aunt Sally" to remember the order of operations (parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction).

It's funny then that a word such as "mnemonics," which is hard to say and even harder to spell, should describe memory-aiding devices. Nevertheless, mnemonics are one of the most common ways for people to improve memory skills, whether for social, professional, or simply personal purposes. What's more, there are lots of mnemonic strategies available to suit different types of learners.


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