Let’s look at what makes memorization effective and powerfully strong so you don’t end up forgetting.
When you try and memorize you want to ensure that you can still remember for later on down the track. The cool thing is, by understanding how the brain and encoding works, we can retain information for a long time.
Let’s call this circle memorization.
Memorization through storytelling
Memorization works by making stories. This circle represents our little narrative playing out in our head. This is where we want to retrieve the information we want to recall.
Depending on how we build this story, if we forget, that means there’s not enough information in our memorization circle. There’s not enough juice in the story to help our recall. Hence, the recall becomes weak. It becomes broken.
The way to strengthen that recall is to keep feeding the story. So whether it is making the story more memorable by adding additional colour, humour, or exaggerating the scene.
Take a look at movies. Aren’t they just mostly exaggerations? Why? Because it helps you to mentally engage and keep you entertained, which in turn helps you remember.
The opposite of that, if you want to forget, is to make things less engaging. If you want to strengthen this ‘R’ (recall), instead of going back and repeating, is make this story bigger and better.
Remembering someone’s name example
For example. Let’s say you want to remember a person’s name which is, John. Why I say John is because my father-in-law’s name is John. He’s a great guy and he loves playing golf.
Instead of just repeating golf and John in the memorization circle, I have to make a proper memory connection with golf and John using principles of memory to strengthen.
Those two things (John and golf) are just not strong enough at the moment by themselves. So firstly, I picture John playing golf.
That’s still a basic image and not a strong enough story. Let’s try and delve into the story further.
Delving deeper into making the name more memorable
Maybe John’s golf club is really big. 10 foot tall even! Now that’s a bit more visually appealing. How about the location, where is he playing at? Maybe the local golf club or maybe it’s St. Andrews in Scotland. One of the most prestigious golf courses in the world.
So John my father-in-law is playing golf at St Andrews in Scotland with a 10 foot golf club. Our story is growing bigger and bigger. But you could still make that even more powerful.
You could pose the question – How did he get to St. Andrews in the first place? Did he get an invitation? It can take years to get to play there. Maybe he received a special invitation from a celebrity who happened to have some good connections to the people at the golf course.
The next question to ask could be – how does he know the celebrity?
Enhance recall through further questioning
So you can get deeper and deeper into the story through further questioning. As you delve deeper, these circles keep getting bigger and bigger. And because they get bigger and bigger guess what happens? Recall gets stronger.
What you want to be able to do is make these circles and what’s inside them a lot bigger and bigger each time.
Now you’re probably thinking, well okay I’ve just met someone and I need to remember their name or ten others how do I do it so quickly?
Well the thing is you’re you’re not going to get enough time to make this story bigger and bigger, so there’s other strategies around that like increasing visualisation speed.
To remember better you’re:
– Taking abstract data (In this case a person’s name)
– Making the story a lot bigger and
– Achieving better recall as a result
If you really want effective recall you have to make these stories a lot stronger. If you want to fail at memorizing, then don’t make any stories. Just see if you can remember the images.
Create stories, not just images on its own to harness the real power of memory
You may still be able to remember the images on its own, but it won’t be as powerful as fully fledged stories. And if you want to fail entirely, just use rote learning!
Another example is my name, Tansel. Some people say tinsel, tonsil, yell out “Hey, utensil”. What you want to be able to do is not just say, “tinsel, tansel”, you want to be able to create a story like, put tinsel around my head and hang me on Christmas tree. There’s a little story developing there.
By asking further questions like, how, what, why, when, who, and so on, you add extra memorable elements in there. The story builds and expands and then your recall expands.
That’s how you improve your recall and retention ability. The more you do this your recall is going to last a longer period of time. You will start to improve not just your short-term, but long-term memory as well.