How do you remember everyone's names?

I often conduct face to face sessions with audiences of 15 to 30 people on various topics. About 2-3 hours into a session, I am able to remember the names of all the participants. People are always astonished that I can do this so fast! I am not blessed with a photographic memory, and there is no magic in it either. I just follow a time tested process that works. It is also the philosophy that FlashCardz is based on.

When we study any subject, there are quite a few things to remember. This fact is quite obvious in subjects like history, geography, biology and chemistry. However it is also true of physics and even mathematics. In mathematics, you have to remember and recognise patterns of problems, so that you can recall and decide what approach can be used to solve them.

Most study methods focus on taking in concepts and other study material - by reading, watching videos or listening to your teacher. However any information or concept only becomes easy to remember and recall when we engage in repeated "recall practice". Recall practice involves answering questions as a self-study strategy. When we read or hear a concept we often develop an "illusion of understanding" which is rudely broken when the question pops up in an exam. At the most important time, we are at a loss - unable to recall, or apply the concept! Therefore recalling and using the information repeatedly is the best self study strategy to prepare for exams.

The FlashCardz system is completely based on this concept. Everything we do - flashcards, crosswords and quizzes - forces the student to practice recall and application, thus building neural networks to strengthen recall and application at the right time. While practicing recall and application on FlashCardz, a student will make mistakes, however the system provides immediate feedback to correct these mistakes, and the next time the student is more likely to get it right. Technology allows us to repeat such questions more often to help the student strengthen that concept.

So what does all this have to do with me remembering names of 25-30 people flawlessly within 2-3 hours of my session?

The first thing I do is write the names down. Then I associate the names with people's appearances. But that is not enough. My final step is the most important one. While conducting my session, I repeatedly recall and use the names of the participants! If someone asks a question, I like to say "Thank you for your question Soham!". Or I might point to someone and ask "So Ruchira, how long did you have to drive to come here this morning?". In this process I sometimes make a few mistakes, but that is part of the process. I am immediately corrected, and then the name sticks! The more I use the names, the firmer they are lodged in my brain.

So the secret to good performance in exams is this: Do lots and lots of recall and application practice. Repeat where you go wrong. That's all. The amazing thing is that the FlashCardz platform automates this process and makes it fun for you.

By Nitin Kulkarni


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