Be a memory master


By Chester Santos

There’s nothing worse than forgetting a name or some essential information. In this piece US Memory Champion Chester Santos gives us his top ten tips for developing amazing memory skills.

1. Visualise – Take whatever it is that you are trying to remember and try to turn it into a simple image or series of memorable images. We are very good at remembering things that we see.

2. Involve additional senses – Beyond visualisation, try to involve as many other senses as you can while trying to commit a piece of information to memory. The more senses you involve, the more of your brain you’ll be using and the more connections in your mind to the information you’ll be building.

3. Use your creativity and imagination – Next, try to make what you are seeing and experiencing in your mind crazy and extraordinary. This is important so you can take advantage of the psychological aspect to your memory. We can all remember things that are crazy, unusual and extraordinary in some way with little or no effort.

4. Build a story – Keep the first three tips above in mind while you build a story that incorporates the information that you need to remember. Let me illustrate by having you commit to memory the following random list of words: monkey, iron, rope, kite, house, paper, shoe, worm, envelope, pencil.

Instead of memorising the list through repetition, relax and have fun while visualising the following ‘story’. Picture a monkey. This monkey is dancing around making monkey noises. The monkey then picks up an iron. The iron starts to fall, but a rope attaches itself to the iron. You look up the rope and see the other end attached to a kite. The kite now crashes into a house. You notice that the house is covered in paper. A shoe appears out of nowhere and starts to walk on the paper. The shoe smells bad, so you look inside to find a worm crawling around. The world now jumps into an envelope and a pencil starts to write on the envelope.

Read through the story while visualising everything described. See it like a movie playing in your head. Now, recite all of the random words from memory by simply going through the story in your mind and recalling each major object that you encounter – the works amazingly well.

5. Remember names – You can apply the first four principles when remembering names by taking a person’s name and turning it into a powerful visual. Jane might become chain. Next, it’s even better if you can then connect a powerful visual to a unique aspect of the person’s appearance, using an unusual story that incorporates your senses. If Jane has beautiful hair, you’ll see the chain running through her hair and emitting a pleasant aroma. It might seem a bit silly at first, but this technique for remembering names is very effective.

6. Focus – It may seem obvious but the tips above won’t help unless you really pay attention. We must focus on one thing at a time to remember effectively, but you can train yourself to focus better with practice.

7. Review before you sleep – Many studies have shown that reviewing important information before you sleep causes your brain to process and solidify the information in your mind overnight. You’ll wake up the next morning knowing the information much better than you did the night before.

8. Use it or lose it – Your brain is incredibly trainable. People go to the gym because their body doesn’t get the exercise it needs from sitting at a desk all day. In the same way, you need to exercise your brain with tasks you might not ordinarily do in your regular daily routine. Puzzles and brain training apps like ‘Peak’ are not only great fun, but they also challenge you to commit things to memory and using your member regularly will strengthen it further.

9. Eat right – A healthy body equals a healthy mind. If your diet is deficient in essential vitamins and minerals, you might want to consider taking a daily multivitamin. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for proper brain function, so if you aren’t eating fish perhaps consider taking a fish oil supplement.

10. Get enough sleep – Failing to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night will eventually catch up with you. You’ll notice a sharp decline in your ability to remember things, even if you use all the other tips in this article, so make sure you get a good night’s sleep if you want to realise your full memory potential.


Chester Santos is an award-winning international speaker, US Memory Champion and author. You can learn more about Chester by logging on to

Catherine Devane