หน้าหลัก How to Develop a Brilliant Memory Week by Week: 52 Proven Ways to Enhance Your Memory Skills

How to Develop a Brilliant Memory Week by Week: 52 Proven Ways to Enhance Your Memory Skills

Few would disagree that improving our memories can enrich our lives in countless little ways - from ensuring that we remember birthdays, anniversaries and appointments to having impressive facts and figures always at our fingertips; and from recalling names and faces to being able to speak in public without notes. This book is an expert course in memory enhancement, organized in 52 key lessons, complete with self-testing. Dominic O'Brien offers us tried and tested strategies and tips that will expand your mental capacities at a realistic but impressive rate to make your memory bigger, better and sharper, week-by-week.
ปี:
2014
สำนักพิมพ์:
Watkins Publishing
ภาษา:
english
จำนวนหน้า:
192
ISBN 10:
1780287909
ISBN 13:
9781780287904
File:
EPUB, 1.76 MB
ดาวน์โหลด (epub, 1.76 MB)

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Contents


Introduction


1 MEMORY TOOLS

• Step 01 How Good is Your Memory?

• Step 02 Visualization and Observation

• Step 03 Acronyms

• Step 04 Turning Numbers into Sentences

• Step 05 The Body System

• Step 06 Association: the First Key

• Step 07 The Link Method

• Step 08 Location: the Second Key

• Step 09 Imagination: the Third Key

• Step 10 The Journey Method

• Step 11 Concentration

• Step 12 The Language of Numbers

• Step 13 The Number-Rhyme System

• Step 14 The Alphabet System


2 MEMORY CONSTRUCTION

• Step 15 How to Remember Names and Faces

• Step 16 How to Remember Directions

• Step 17 How to Remember Spellings

• Step 18 How to Remember Countries and Their Capitals

• Step 19 Learning a Foreign Language

• Step 20 How to Remember Your Past

• Step 21 How to Remember the Elements

• Step 22 Develop Your Declarative Memory

• Step 23 The Dominic System I

• Step 24 How to Remember Jokes

• Step 25 How to Remember Fiction

• Step 26 Read Faster and Remember More

• Step 27 How to Remember Quotations

• Step 28 Memory and Mind Maps®

• Step 29 How to Remember Speeches and Presentations

• Step 30 The Art of Revision and Maximizing Recall


3 MEMORY POWER

• Step 31 The Dominic System II

• Step 32 How to Remember Telephone Conversations

• Step 33 The Dominic System III

• Step 34 How to Memorize a Deck of Playing Cards

• Step 35 How to Become a Human Calendar

• Step 36 How to Remember Historic Dates

• Step 37 Telephone Numbers and Important Dates

• Step 38 How to Remember the News

• Step 39 How to Memorize Oscar Winners

• Step 40 How to Remember Poetry


4 MEMORY MASTERCLASS

• Step 41 The Roman Room Method

• Step 42 How to Remember Historic and Future Dates

• Step 43 How to Store a Memory within a Memory

• Step 44 How to Memorize Binary Numbers

• Step 45 How to Memorize a Dictionary

• Step 46 How to Memorize Multiple Decks of Cards

• Step 47 How to Memorize a Room Full of People

• Step 48 Healthy Body, Healthy Memory

• Step 49 How to Win at Quiz Games

• Step 50 Games t; o Boost Your Memory Power

• Step 51 Number Memorization Exercises

• Step 52 How Brilliant is Your Memory Now?


Conclusion

Further Reading

Contact the Author and Author’s Acknowledgments





Contact the Author


If you would like to contact Dominic O’Brien, he can be reached through the following web address:

www.peakperformancetraining.org





Author’s Acknowledgments


I wish to thank the creative team at Duncan Baird Publishers, including Bob Saxton, Justin Ford, Naomi Waters and Zoë Stone, for producing this book.





Introduction


I have come to believe that many, if not most, of us have the potential to become “memory champions”. Having trained members of the public through game shows and lectures, as well as in impromptu meetings (for example, in restaurants), I always find that people are amazed by the way in which their memory power appears to be instantly transformed. All they have done to achieve this is implement the basic principles outlined in this book.

How to Develop a Brilliant Memory Week By Week aims to unleash the power of your memory by showing you these simple techniques in bite-sized chapters. You are never too young nor too old to acquire these skills. If you are new to memory training, then I have no doubt that you, too, will be amazed at how easily you can learn these methods and how quickly you can employ them.

To get the most out of this book I recommend that you perform the exercises and tests, which are contained in most steps. You will require a notebook for writing down your answers and for keeping a note of your scores.

The scores fall within three categories: Untrained, Improver and Master. Adding up your score for an exercise will tell you which level you have achieved. In each case, the scoring bands reflect the relative difficulty of the individual exercise. The Untrained score indicates the points I would expect someone to attain without using any memory techniques. The Improver score is the category you are aiming for; and the Master score shows a truly outstanding result. Within this scoring system, you can see how well you are doing compared to someone with an average untrained memory, and how much your own memory is improving from one step to the next. Don’t worry if you score poorly to begin with or if you find certain exercises more difficult than others – some of them are designed to be quite tricky! You can repeat the exercises and tests as many times as you like: memory is a faculty that is always improved by practice. The exercises and tests will not just enable you to memorize particular types of information, but will also sharpen your memory in general.

Chapter 1 is designed to evaluate your existing memory as well as introduce you to the basic memory tools that you can use on a day-to-day basis. In chapter 2 you will develop these basic principles for use in a wide range of practical applications, such as How to Remember Names and Faces, and Speeches.

Chapter 3 will develop your memory power to a more advanced level. You will be combining many of the techniques already acquired in order to memorize more complex sets of information.

By Chapter 4 your memory will be powerful enough to tackle the final, very challenging steps. The book concludes with some short tests which I am confident will reveal a great improvement from the initial assessment you took in Step 1.

Take as much time as you need to complete each step. I hope you will find my methods challenging as well as fun to learn.





chapter 1


Memory Tools


• Step 01 How Good is Your Memory?

• Step 02 Visualization and Observation

• Step 03 Acronyms

• Step 04 Turning Numbers into Sentences

• Step 05 The Body System

• Step 06 Association: the First Key

• Step 07 The Link Method

• Step 08 Location: the Second Key

• Step 09 Imagination: the Third Key

• Step 10 The Journey Method

• Step 11 Concentration

• Step 12 The Language of Numbers

• Step 13 The Number-Rhyme System

• Step 14 The Alphabet System





Memory depends on three basic processes: making something memorable, storing that item in the mind, and recalling it accurately at some future time. Before you can begin to improve your memory you must have faith in it as a perfectible faculty. We may speak of having a memory “like a sieve” – yet this is not in the same order of reality as being balding, or colour-blind, or pigeon-toed. As you begin to use the memory techniques in this chapter, you will find that your ability to recall facts, numbers, objects, events, places and people gradually sharpens.

This chapter begins with some word, shape and number tests to help you to evaluate your current memory power. You will learn some basic stand-alone techniques, such as Acronyms and the Body System, that are useful for memorizing small and simple sets of information.

Then we look at developing the key skills of association, location and imagination. I will introduce you to effective memory techniques including the Journey Method, a filing system for storing items you wish to remember, and the Number-Shape System, a way to recall a sequence of numbers from four-digit PINs to historical dates. I will guide you as you learn these methods and practise them in the various exercises.





01 How Good is Your Memory?


Whether you feel your memory is unreliable or performing reasonably well, the chances are that it is already in fairly good shape. But it is likely that no one has shown you how to access its true potential. Self-doubt may have crept in as you become conscious of forgetting people’s names, where you left your wallet, or that new PIN for your credit card.

This first step will measure how good or indifferent your current memory power is through several tests. Write down your answers and keep track of your scores in your notebook.

Don’t worry if you score poorly at first, as I am confident you will make rapid progress after just the first few steps of your 52-step journey to a perfect memory.





TEST 1: Words


Allow yourself three minutes to study the following list of 20 words. Write down as many words as you can recall. The order is not important. Score one point for each word you can recall correctly, then move on to the next test.


TREE TIME FACE PIPE

CLOCK MOUSE ENGINE PLANET

THUNDER NECKLACE WARDROBE CATERPILLAR

GARDEN TREACLE PICTURE HARNESS

SLEEP APPLE OCEAN BOOK





TEST 2: Number Sequence


Study the following sequence of 20 digits for three minutes. In this test the order is important. In your notebook write down as many numbers in the correct sequence as you can before a mistake is made. Score one point for each correct digit. This is “sudden death”: in other words, if you recall all 20 digits but the fifth digit is incorrect, your score is four. Good luck!





5 0 3 6 7 4 4 0 9 2 8 2 0 5 7 6 7 1 2 9





TEST 3: Shapes


Take three minutes to look at the following sequence of 10 shapes. Memorize them in the running order shown below, from 1 to 10. Then turn the page where you will find the shapes reproduced in a different sequence. Follow the instructions you find there to complete the test.



Below you will see the same shapes you have just memorized, but in a different order. Try to number them in their original order (that is, as shown on the previous page, but without referring to that page). Score one point for each correctly numbered shape.





TEST 4: Binary Numbers


Allow yourself three minutes to memorize the following sequence of 30 binary numbers, then in your notebook try to write down as many of these numbers as you can before a mistake is made. Score one point for each correctly remembered binary number. Again, this is “sudden death”: if you recall the first five digits correctly, then make a mistake on the sixth digit, your score is five.





1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 1





TEST 5: Playing Cards


Take three minutes to study the following 10 playing cards, then try to repeat the exact sequence in your notebook. As with the numbers, this is “sudden death”. Score one point for each card you can recall before a mistake is made.





Score Add up your scores from the five tests to arrive at a total.

Maximum points: 90 Untrained: 20+ Improver: 35+ Master: 70+





If your score is above the Improver range, then you have great memory potential – expect superb results by step 52. Don’t worry if your score is below the Untrained range: once you start following these steps you should notice impressive progress straight away, and I am in no doubt that your memory will be in great shape by the end of this book.





02 Visualization and Observation


Throughout this book I ask you to picture or visualize various objects, faces and places. Some people worry that because they are unable to produce in their mind’s eye a faithful representation of items, such as an apple or cow, then these techniques will not work. However, you don’t need to produce a photographic replica of the item: all that is required is simply to imagine some particularly memorable aspect of whatever it is you are attempting to visualize.

Let’s say you want to picture a panda bear. There’s no need to visualize the exact proportions of its nose in relation to its ears or the glint of the sun catching its fur. Just think of a cartoon image of a big black and white fluffy animal with black eyes and maybe some sharp claws.

I find when I am chasing through a list of, say, 100 words, and trying to commit them to memory, I concentrate on getting a flash of one element of the object. For example, all I may see for the word shoe is a shoelace, or for a telephone I may get a split-second picture of the keypad on my own phone.

Remember, the word “imagine” does not only mean, to form a mental image, it can also mean to devise or contrive. The image you create is specific to you – it exists only in your mind and is not real outside of this perception.

There are techniques for developing powers of mental imagery, and the more you exercise your memory the stronger your inner eye will become.





EXERCISE: Visualization through Observation


This is a great exercise for enhancing the visual side of your memory as well as developing powers of observation.


1 First, take any household object near to hand such as a telephone, vase, kettle or radio. Let’s suppose you choose your kettle: study it for about 15 to 20 seconds to observe as many aspects of it as possible.


2 Now close your eyes and recall as much about that object as you can in your mind’s eye. To begin with, all you may recollect is the shape of the kettle’s body and the curve of the handle. When you’ve run out of ideas, open your eyes and take in more detail, such as the shape of the spout or the manufacturer’s name.


3 Close your eyes once more and add your new observations to your original mental picture. Then open your eyes again to observe more detail. Keep repeating this pattern of open eyes – observe – close eyes – review, until you have absorbed as many features of the kettle as you possibly can.


4 Now, without looking at the object, try to sketch these memorized features in your notebook. When you have exhausted your visualized recollections of the kettle, take one final viewing to notice if there is any more detail that you could add to your stored mental picture file.





03 Acronyms


You are most probably already familiar with using Acronyms as a memory aid. An Acronym is a word formed from the first or first few letters of several words. For example, NATO is an Acronym for North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Acronym is spoken as a word, rather than a series of letters each with its own pronunciation. Here are some more examples:


JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group

RADAR Radio Detection And Ranging

SCUBA Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

UNICEF United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund

WHO World Health Organization

EXTENDED ACRONYMS

One popular form of Acronym is when a sentence or verse is created from the first letter of each word to help us remember certain pieces of information in sequence. This is known as an Extended Acronym. For example, to remember the colours of the spectrum – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet – British readers will find the following ditty familiar:


RICHARD OF YORK GAVE BATTLE IN VAIN.





EXERCISE: Extended Acronyms


Take a look at the following two examples of Extended Acronyms:


• Sergeant Major Hates Eating Onions

Great lakes of North America:

Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario


• Help Five Policemen To Find Ten Missing Prisoners

Bones of the lower limb:

Hip, Femur, Patella, Tibia, Fibula, Tarsals, Metatarsals, Phalanges



Now see if you can memorize the following two sets of data by creating your own Extended Acronyms. Be imaginative and use exaggeration and humour to make your own Acronyms memorable.


• Volts = Amps x Resistance (Ohm’s Law):

Hint: Make a saying from the three letters V,A and R.


• Order of the nine planets from the sun:

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto

Hint: Again, make a saying from the first letters of each planet in order.



I will be asking you to recall your two Extended Acronyms in a moment, but first, let’s have a look at a variation in the Acronym method, one that helps us to remember numbers.





04 Turning Numbers into Sentences


On February 18th 1995 at NHK Broadcasting Center, Tokyo, Japan, Hiroyuki Goto recited Pi by memory to 42,195 decimal places. He did this to set a new world record. Pi denotes the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter and is approximately 3.1415926. It makes for the perfect test for remembering numbers as the ratio forms a transcendental number: in other words, there are an infinite number of decimal places that can be memorized.

In Chapter 4 I will explain how it is possible to memorize hundreds of binary numbers using my Binary Code and a system for grouping six or more digits together combined with the Journey Method (see Step 44).

But for memorizing a smaller sequence of numbers, such as your social security, passport or telephone number, mnemonics can be used. A mnemonic is any device that aids memory. In the previous step we looked at Acronyms, which are probably the most commonly used form of mnemonics. We can use a technique very similar to that used to create Extended Acronyms to memorize a small sequence of numbers. Each digit determines the number of letters in each word in the sequence. For example, you could use the following mnemonic to memorize the first few places of Pi: 3.1415926


HOW I WISH I COULD ENUMERATE PI EASILY

(3) (1) (4) (1) (5) (9) (2) (6)





EXERCISE: Creating Sentences from Numbers


Try making Sentences out of Numbers to memorize the following two sets of data. Use your imagination and be as inventive as you like. Remember, the digits denote the number of letters in each word:


1 PIN - 3316


2 Passport number - 154244625


Review the two Extended Acronyms that you created in the exercise on page 19, followed by the two Sentences out of Numbers that you devised in the above exercise. Cover the top half of this page and write down the answers to these questions in your notebook:


1 What is the four-digit PIN? Score 10 points


2 What is Ohm’s Law? Score 10 points


3 What is the order of the nine planets from the sun? Score 20 points


4 What is the passport number? Score 20 points


Score You need to recall each word or number correctly and in sequence in order to score any points:

Maximum points: 60 Untrained: 10+ Improver: 30+ Master: 50+





05 The Body System


In this step I am going to offer you a quick-fix memory system for those occasions when you want to instantly memorize something. The Body System is a very simple but effective way of storing a few items such as a shopping list. It works by associating parts of the body with key imaginative mental pictures of whatever it is you want to remember. The more vivid or exaggerated the picture the better, because that will help to fix it in your memory. There are no hard and fast rules with this system, but I would suggest you limit it to store no more than 10 items. You do not need to use the same 10 body parts labelled on the diagram opposite. And you can work through a list from your head down to your feet, or vice versa.

Let’s say you need to remember the following 10-item shopping list: blue paint, dog biscuits, newspaper, flashlight, prescription, chicken, toothpaste, bananas, shampoo and alarm-clock batteries.

I picture putting my foot into an open pot of blue paint. I imagine a dog jumping up at my knee. A rolled-up newspaper is sticking out of my pocket (thigh). A beam of light is shining from my belly button. A prescription is stuck to my chest. A chicken is perched on my shoulder. I have toothpaste smeared around my mouth. My nose is shaped like a banana. My hair is covered in shampoo lather. In my hand I am holding a loudly ringing alarm clock.

With a little imagination I can quickly commit to memory a list of items. The following exercise lets you try out this system for yourself, by asking you to remember a list of 10 shopping items.





EXERCISE: Using the Body System


The diagram below labels 10 key body parts. Make associations between each body part and each of the 10 items on the list below.


When you have created all 10 images, review the entire sequence in your mind. Then cover this page and see if you can write down all 10 shopping items in your notebook.

SHOPPING LIST

CARTON OF MILK

BUNCH OF GRAPES

RICE

VITAMINS

PASTRIES

ORANGE JUICE

FILM FOR CAMERA

FRESH FLOWERS

BLACK PEPPER

VACATION BROCHURE





Score 10 points for each correctly remembered item.

Maximum points: 100 Untrained: 20+

Improver: 50+ Master: 90+





06 Association: the First Key


Association is at the heart of developing a perfect memory. It is the mechanism by which memory works. The brain comprises billions of neurons or nerve cells that are connected together in a maze of pathways, allowing an infinite number of permutations of thoughts and memories. Therefore, it is feasible to suggest that any two thoughts, ideas, words, numbers or objects can be linked easily no matter how contrary their nature, and in a rich variety of ways. All you need to do is to allow your thoughts to radiate freely.

For example, how does your brain process the two objects chalk and cheese? What do you associate with these words? Chalking a picture of cheese on a chalkboard? Prodding cheese with a stick of chalk to test its firmness?

We tend to think of an object not by its dictionary definition but rather by the notions which we associate with it. When I hear the word “frog” I don’t automatically compute a tailless web-footed amphibian; rather, I think of a pond, tadpoles, a scene from a fairy tale, footage from a TV nature documentary, and much more. When you see the word “snow” you don’t perceive it as atmospheric vapour frozen in crystalline form; more likely you have personal associations, such as building your first snowman, a skiing holiday, a famous film, snowball fights, and so on.

With so many possible associations and a vast network of interconnected brain cells to act as a conduit for these linked thoughts, it is surely possible to find an association between any two sets of information. How would you link frog and snow together? A frog made of snow? A frog leaping through snow? A frog skiing? With just a little imagination the permutations of links are endless.

This conveniently takes us to the next step, or should I say, the next link on the chain to a perfect memory … the Link Method. But before we take that next step, let’s exercise those lively neurons of yours by playing a game of free association.





EXERCISE: Free Association


One at a time, say each of the following 10 words and immediately write down the first word or thought that pops into your head. There are no rules and no points to be scored. This is merely a way of limbering up for the Link Method by allowing your mind free range to think whatever it wants to think. Try not to deliberate for too long on any of the words. Your first associations will be the strongest and most significant.


TRAMPOLINE TELEPHONE BRAIN MOON DREAM

RELATIVES SNOWFLAKE BRIDGE TEDDY BEAR MEMORY





07 The Link Method


The Link Method is a simple and effective method for memorizing any sequence of data, whether a shopping list, or a set of names, concepts, objects, directions, and so on. All that’s required is an unleashing of creative imagination.

How could you remember the four objects, hand, butter, magnet and atlas, in sequence using the Link Method? Imagine putting your hand into some butter. From inside the butter you pull out a sticky magnet. The magnet pulls itself and you toward a book, which happens to be an atlas. Now the four objects are memorable because you have forged a set of links between them all.





EXERCISE 1: Using the Link Method


Using your powers of creativity and association, memorize the following list of five words using the Link Method:


PAPER WINDOW SNAIL CAR GUITAR


Allow your mind to go into “free flow” – that is, let your imagination work radiantly. You won’t need to fabricate links: just allow them to pop into your head. When you have made your links, compare them with mine below.


I throw a piece of rolled-up paper at a window. The window opens to reveal a snail. The snail is driving a car. In the back seat of the car is a guitar. This method mixes reality with a little fantasy. It doesn’t matter how my mind decided on these ideas. The important point is that they were my first thoughts and they have ensured I will remember those five objects in the correct order.





EXERCISE 2: Extending the Link Method


I suspect a list of five objects is too easy for you, so why not see how far you can stretch your memory by attempting to recall this list of 20 items. Allow yourself five minutes to form a chain of links between these words, and then see how many items you can recall in sequence before making a mistake:


DUNGEON LIZARD TELEPHONE TOOTHPASTE

TRUCK COMPUTER FLOWERS SPIDER CHAIR

DICTIONARY GARDEN HOSE CURTAIN BASKET

CATAPULT BALLOON PLUMBER VOLCANO

TABLE PORTRAIT SKI


Your imagination probably took you on an epic journey, leading you from a dungeon via a truck transporting a computer, then somehow to a catapult that fires at a balloon, and so on through to the final item on the list – a ski.


Score One point for each item you remembered in sequence.

Maximum points: 20 Untrained: 4+ Improver: 8+ Master: 18+

If you scored 14 or more, then you have created a highly effective chain of links.





08 Location: the Second Key


Location is the second key to a perfect memory – locations make up the map of memory. They act as mental filing cabinets, providing a natural and efficient means of storing and retrieving memories. This is because we live in a three-dimensional world where objects can be located – physically or mentally – by where they reside or by following a set of predetermined co-ordinates.

Location was first used as a memory tool more than 2,000 years ago. The ancient Greeks and later the Romans discovered that the best way to remember things was to impose order on them. They did this by choosing a series of places or loci which were already familiar to them. This could consist of rooms around the house, balconies, arches, statues, and so on. Images of what they wanted to recall would then be placed – or rather imagined – at these various loci.

Location brings order to our lives and without it our lives would be in chaos. Imagine you were instructed to write down everything you have done today, in order. Like me, you would probably start by retracing your steps and you would most likely use the places you have travelled through to act as a reference.

In Step 6 we learned that it is possible to find a connection between any two sets of information. Likewise, it is possible for your brain to find an association between any word, object, notion or thought, and a location. Take the word “seven”: at first glance it is just a number, but once you allow your mind to radiate freely, the word can direct you to a host of associated places: seventh heaven, the cottage from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, a school you attended when you were seven years old, and so on.

Location, then, is an indispensable building-block of memory training, because it lends itself well to association. I use it in a number of my memorization techniques. It is the main feature of the Journey Method – a technique we shall learn in Step 10 and use repeatedly throughout this book.





EXERCISE: Where Do These Words Take You?


Take a look at the following list of 10 words. What places are evoked in your mind by each of these words? Perhaps the word jump reminds you of a river you used to jump over. Catch hold of these places as they pop into your head and jot down as many of them as you can in your notebook. The aim of this exercise is simply to extend your powers of association by demonstrating that any word can trigger a specific associated place in your mind:


JUMP SIXTEEN ELEPHANT KISS LADDER

FATHER CLOCK AUGUST HOTEL STORM





09 Imagination: the Third Key


“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879–1955)

If association and location are the engine and map of memory respectively, then imagination is the fuel of memory. Imagination is not just the faculty for forming mental images: it is the full creative power of the mind. It is not just the preserve of artists, musicians or poets but a resource that we all have readily available.

Imagination is associated with Theta brainwave activity which is normally at its most active when we are dreaming. However, young children, particularly babies, produce a constant supply of this frequency during waking hours, which may explain why their imaginations often run rampant. The lines between the real and the imagined are blurred, as a teddy bear becomes a living companion and a plastic toy develops magical powers.

As we take on the responsibilities and expectations of adulthood, imagination that was once allowed free range is curbed. I believe there is a direct correlation between the amount of stimulation a person is given as a child and the degree of resistance they show to new ideas in adulthood.

Throughout this book you will be exercising your imagination in a variety of ways, and the more you exercise it the easier it will become to generate memory-building images, ideas and thoughts, and with steadily increasing clarity and speed. As your imagination becomes livelier, so will your memory become stronger: all that’s required from you is to allow it to come out to play.

For now, try the following exercise to help you limber up and stretch the boundaries of your imagination.





EXERCISE: Stretching Your Imagination


We are often required to remember information that is, by its nature, inherently uninteresting or unremarkable, such as a list of chores for the day. However, if we use our imagination to embellish an image of the particular item we wish to remember, then we can make it exciting and thus memorable.


Imagine that you need to remember to post an important letter. First, picture a realistic image of an envelope. Then transform this image to make it more memorable. Picture yourself staggering along the road carrying a gigantic envelope. The envelope is decorated with bright blue stars. Now let’s add a couple more oddities. Imagine that it smells of chocolate and is ticking like a clock. Now you have created a vivid visual image, and you have added the dimensions of smell and sound. Appealing to two more senses, on top of the visual, makes the item even more memorable in your mind.





10 The Journey Method


It’s now time to put together the three keys of memory – association, location and imagination – by incorporating them into what I believe is the most powerful and complete technique for memorizing any list of information. You will be using all the skills you have already learned: in particular, association (Step 6) and the Link Method (Step 7). I developed this method primarily to help me break world records, and it has been the central weapon in helping me to beat my competitors. I call it the Journey Method, and I believe it will be instrumental in transforming your memory.

Start by choosing a location that is familiar to you, such as your home, your place of work, your home town or a nearby park. The idea is to use this location to prepare a short journey consisting of a series of places or stops along the way. The places are then used to mentally store the items on the list you wish to memorize. The route you take will preserve the original order of the list.

After a while you should find, like me, that you have a favourite journey that you can adopt to memorize almost any type of information for everyday use. In other words, you won’t have to prepare a new journey every time you need to apply this technique: you can simply wipe clean your existing, favourite journey and use it again and again to store the fresh set of information that you wish to memorize.

However, if you want to memorize information for long-term storage, or different sets of information in the shorter term, you will need more than one journey. For example, when I am preparing for record attempts or memory competitions, then I require multiple journeys. As we apply the Journey Method throughout this book I will give you examples of different routes so that you can practise using different journeys. It also helps if your chosen location is relevant to the particular set of data you wish to memorize. For example, I might choose to store sporting statistics along a journey to my local leisure complex.

Your home is probably the most familiar location to you. So let’s use the layout of a typical house to demonstrate how to memorize a simple “to do” list of 10 jobs for the day. Choose a route through your own home consisting of 10 stops.


Let’s use the following 10 areas as stops on your journey:

1 FRONT DOOR

2 HALLWAY

3 KITCHEN

4 LIVING ROOM

5 UTILITY ROOM

6 STAIRWAY

7 MASTER BEDROOM

8 BATHROOM

9 SPARE BEDROOM

10 ATTIC

Make sure that the order of stops forms a logical route through your own home – for example, you would be unlikely to travel from your front door to your attic before visiting the kitchen. You want the route to act as a “guide rope”, leading you effortlessly through all the stops in their correct order.

I find when preparing my own routes that it helps to close my eyes and imagine that I am floating through each room as I try to picture all the familiar pieces of furniture, ornaments and personal belongings. As I do this, I count off each place on my fingers until I have reached the final stopping place.

Make a mental note of the halfway stage of your route. For example, I would choose the utility room, or fifth stop, as my halfway point in the above example.

Once you have prepared your journey and know all the stopping points effortlessly forward and backward, then you are ready to start placing items from the list along your route.

Don’t consciously try to memorize the items on the list. This is not a test of memory but a demonstration of imagination and association combined with location.


We’ll use the following 10 jobs as an example:

1 CALL VET

2 MEND SUNGLASSES

3 BAKE CUP CAKES

4 VISIT BANK MANAGER

5 BUY BIRTHDAY PRESENT

6 BUY POSTAGE STAMPS

7 COLLECT DRY CLEANING

8 CHECK OIL IN CAR

9 PAY WATER BILL

10 CHANGE LIGHT BULB

All you need to do is form a mental picture of each job and see them at the stops along the route. You can use a number of tools to aid your imagination, such as exaggeration, colour, humour and movement. As well as using all five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, you will also be using plenty of left-brain logic to complement the sometimes bizarre images formed by the right brain. Create the scene, fix it in your mind, then move on to the next stage.

STOP 1 – Front Door

Position yourself at the front door inside your own home. The first item on your “to do” list is call vet. Imagine opening your front door to find a telephone ringing loudly on your door step. Perhaps your cat is sitting on top of the hand set.



STOP 2 – Hallway

Now position yourself in the hallway before looking at the second task -mend sunglasses. Perhaps the hallway lights are so bright that you quickly reach for some sunglasses to protect your eyes. Or maybe the hallway wallpaper is decorated with a repeat pattern of sunglasses.



STOP 3 – Kitchen

In the kitchen you see rows and rows of cup cakes neatly lined up on your work top. An aroma of fresh baking fills the kitchen. There are some more cakes still baking in the oven – which you must rescue before they burn.



STOP 4 – Living Room

Moving into the living room you notice that your bank manager, dressed in a pinstriped suit, is sitting in one of your armchairs sorting through paperwork in preparation for your meeting. There are more papers scattered over the living room floor. Create the scene in your mind’s eye.



STOP 5 – Utility Room

You open the door to the Utility Room to find a gigantic present sitting on top of your fresh pile of laundry. Picture the paper it’s wrapped in – is it brightly coloured, patterned, shiny, adorned with a bow, and so on? Remember to make a mental note that this is the fifth stage of the journey: picture a bold number 5 painted on the door of the utility room.

Now it’s your turn: for the remaining five stops on the journey, listed in the box below, make your own associations to connect these final five jobs to their relevant locations. Remember, at each stage: create a scene, visualize it and add vivid details to make it more memorable.


Stop Job

STAIRWAY BUY POSTAGE STAMPS

MASTER BEDROOM COLLECT DRY CLEANING

BATHROOM CHECK OIL IN CAR

SPARE BEDROOM PAY WATER BILL

ATTIC CHANGE LIGHT BULB





TEST: The Journey Method


If you have been using the three keys of memory (association, location and imagination), you should now be able to recall many, if not all, of the 10 jobs on your “to do” list. Jot down in your notebook as many jobs as you can recall in their correct order.




Score Five points for each correctly ordered job – keep a note of your score.




If you know your route well enough, you won’t confuse the order of the list. You could even recite the list in reverse order. All you have to do is walk backward through your journey. And if you want to pinpoint any of the tasks, all that’s required is to dip into the journey at a specific stage. If you made a mental note of the fifth stage, you can easily pinpoint the fourth item in the list: it has to be the item one stage before the fifth. How many of these questions can you answer correctly? Again, write down the answers in your notebook.



1 What task follows cake baking?

2 Which job comes before checking oil?

3 What is the second job on the list?

4 Which task is between buy birthday present and collect dry cleaning?

5 At what number on the list is pay water bill?



Score 10 points for each correct answer.



Total score Add up your total points to get your overall score for this exercise.

Maximum points: 100 Untrained: 25+ Improver: 40+ Master: 85+





11 Concentration


We all have days when we find it difficult to concentrate: we may feel under pressure or unduly tired. Other days we are highly productive, alert, full of energy and in control. You’ve probably heard the expression, “in the Zone”, which is sometimes used to describe the mental state of high-performance sportsmen and women – for example, when a tennis player is annihilating his or her opponent in a Grand Slam final. So what exactly is this Zone, and shouldn’t all of us have access to it?

Over recent years much of my work has involved measuring the different frequencies of electrical activity produced by the brain using an EEG (electroencephalogram). There are a number of frequencies that we all produce, ranging from slow Delta waves, associated with relaxation, stress control and sleep, to fast Beta waves, associated with increased mental activity, decision making and problem solving. These different frequencies all have their functions and play positive roles in our lives. For example, producing Beta waves enables us to tackle the practical, day-to-day side of life, but if we produced only these waves all the time we would have no time to regenerate, dream or remember efficiently.

Having measured my own brainwaves I noticed that I produce a combination of Alpha and Theta waves – that is, mid-range frequencies – when I’m learning, memorizing and recalling most efficiently. I believe you can train your brain to produce these types of frequencies by regularly exercising your memory.





TIPS: Accessing Your Own Memory Zone


These tips will help you to create the ideal conditions for being “in the Zone”:


• Try to find a little time every day to stretch your memory by setting yourself small challenges such as memorizing a list of words, a random sequence of numbers, or maybe some more practical data such as the names of people you have recently come into contact with, either at work or socially. You can use the exercises in this book as practice – repeat them as often as you like, or use them as templates for devising new exercises.


• Before you try to start memorizing or recalling information, make sure you are physically relaxed and seated comfortably in a quiet room free from noise and visual distraction. If you prefer to work with some sound in the background, then try listening to medium-tempo classical music – avoid more frenetic music such as jazz or heavy metal. Remember, you are seeking a mid-range of frequencies between slow and fast brainwaves.


• Slow down your mind by closing your eyes and conjuring up pleasant scenes, such as a favourite holiday location or tranquil times from your past. This will help the production of Alpha and Theta waves.


• When recalling or reviewing data you have memorized, experiment with closing your eyes to help increase the power of Theta, the memory wave.


• Take regular physical exercise to relax and feed your brain with oxygen.





12 The Language of Numbers


How good are you at remembering numbers? Perhaps you have a knack for recalling telephone numbers. Maybe you can remember Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) but birthdays and anniversaries let you down.

We seem to be ever more surrounded by numbers and increasingly we are expected to memorize them in the form of PINs and codes for credit-card security or for accessing special accounts on the internet, or entry codes to offices. Numbers are ubiquitous: telephone numbers, train timetables, weights and measures, bank statements, population statistics, election results … Wouldn’t it be great if we could file away all these numbers for instant and reliable retrieval on demand?

I do not have an innate talent for remembering numbers, but I do have a trained memory which allows me to memorize a sequence of up to 2,000 digits within one hour. How is this possible?

I give numbers a special code which translates them into meaningful, memorable images. This is what I refer to as the language of numbers.

Later on in this book I shall reveal my more advanced number memorization technique – the Dominic System, which is an extremely efficient method for memorizing multiple-digit numbers. However, the simpler Number-Shape System is a great way to store a sequence of digits from telephone numbers and four-digit PINs to calendar and historical dates, and much more.


THE NUMBER-SHAPE SYSTEM

The Number-Shape System works by translating a single-digit number into an image resembling its shape. For example, the number 8 with a small stretch of the imagination has the shape of a snowman. So, to remember that oxygen has the atomic number 8, picture a snowman wearing an oxygen mask.

The number 6 could resemble an elephant’s trunk. The number 7 has the shape of a boomerang. To remind you that you have a number 67 bus to catch, imagine an elephant standing at the bus stop throwing a boomerang with its trunk: a somewhat unlikely scene but certainly one you won’t forget. Now, suddenly, numbers come to life. They become animated, take on a unique significance and are instantly more memorable.

Let’s look at another example. How would you memorize the four-digit PIN 1580? Perhaps this is a PIN for a cash dispenser, in which case you could stage the scene at your local bank. Imagine walking into your bank carrying a gigantic pencil (a number shape for 1) – perhaps you are about to draft a business plan. Inside the bank there is a seahorse (a number shape for 5) queuing up at the cash desk. Behind the window is a snowman (a number shape for 8) bouncing a soccer ball (a number shape for 0) on his head. Run through this scene in your mind a few times and you shouldn’t forget the PIN in a hurry.





TOOLS: A Pictorial Vocabulary


What shapes do single-digit numbers evoke for you? 0 a ball; 9 a balloon on a string? Take a look at the examples here. Either memorize these equivalents or make up your own.





EXERCISE: Number-Shape Memorization


You may have noticed that in the examples I gave on page 41, I connected number shapes together using the Link Method from Step 7. To remind you, the Link Method works by connecting one object to the next by creating some form of artificial, imagined common ground between the two items.


Try to memorize the following 20-digit number using the Number-Shape System. Convert each number into its equivalent shape (use either your own number shapes or mine) and connect them together using the Link Method. So to start, I imagine throwing a boomerang at a balloon on a string. Now you continue by connecting the balloon on a string to a ball, and so on.


7 9 0 4 6 2 1 3 5 8 5 9 9 4 0 1 3 2 7 6


You should now have created a story involving a chain of 20 linked number shapes starting with a boomerang or a cliff edge and ending with an elephant’s trunk or a golf club. Now try to write down the sequence of numbers in your notebook.


Score One point for each digit you can recall before making a mistake.

Maximum points: 20 Untrained: 4+ Improver: 8+ Master: 18+





13 The Number-Rhyme System


An alternative to Number Shapes is the Number-Rhyme System. This involves forming the key image for a number by a word that rhymes with it. For example, door could be used to rhyme with the number four. A door then becomes the key image for that number and can be used to help you memorize any information involving the number four.

Let’s say you want to remember that you are taking a flight from Terminal 4 at an international airport. You could imagine carrying a door with you as you arrive at the airport. This simple, quick thought will ensure you will arrive at the correct terminal.

How could you remember to buy two pounds of apples? Well, shoe rhymes with the number two. So you could picture yourself in your local grocery store carrying apples in a large shoe.

What words would you choose to rhyme with the numbers one, three, or eight? Here are some suggestions for all 10 digits. Either memorize their equivalent rhymes or create your own:


Numbers and Their Rhyme Words:

0 = HERO

1 = GUN, BUN or SUN

2 = SHOE, GLUE or SUE

3 = TREE, BEE or KEY

4 = DOOR, SORE or BOAR

5 = HIVE, CHIVE or DIVE

6 = STICKS or BRICKS

7 = HEAVEN or KEVIN

8 = GATE, BAIT or WEIGHT

9 = WINE, SIGN or PINE





EXERCISE: Number Rhymes


Use Number Rhymes to memorize the following items of trivia:



1 The world population is approximately six billion

2 The average brain comprises two percent of a person’s body weight

3 There are seven Australian states

4 An ant has five noses

5 Queen Victoria of England had nine children

6 A newborn camel has zero humps

7 There are four planets larger than Earth

8 There are three Great Pyramids at Giza



Now, cover up the top half of this page and see how many answers you can give to the following questions – jot down your answers in your notebook:



1 How many humps does a newborn camel have?

2 What is the world population to the nearest billion?

3 How many noses does an ant have?

4 How many planets are there larger than Earth?

5 How many Australian states are there?

6 How many children did Queen Victoria of England have?

7 How many Great Pyramids are there at Giza?

8 What percentage of body weight can be accounted for by the brain?


Score 10 points for each correct answer.

Maximum points: 80 Untrained: 40+ Improver: 60+ Master: 80





14 The Alphabet System


I was once required to memorize the NATO phonetic alphabet for a job. To do this I used the Journey Method described in Step 10. The journey is a highly effective memory tool, allowing information to be absorbed rapidly in the form of symbolic images along a preplanned route. However, after I started using this alphabet I no longer needed to use the journey to recall the words as the information soon became fixed in my long-term memory.

The phonetic alphabet is a useful memory device in itself. Any data I need to memorize involving single letters I automatically substitute with their symbolic equivalents. So, to remember a random code of three letters, Z G H, I picture a Zulu hitting a Golf ball at a Hotel. It’s also a useful alternative to the Journey Method as it provides a storage facility for memorizing a list of up to 26 pieces of information such as 26 great composers, artists or poets.


Here is a list of the phonetic alphabet:

ALPHA

BRAVO

CHARLIE

DELTA

ECHO

FOXTROT

GOLF

HOTEL

INDIA

JULIET

KILO

LIMA

MIKE

NOVEMBER

OSCAR

PAPA

QUEBEC

ROMEO

SIERRA

TANGO

UNIFORM

VICTOR

WHISKEY

X-RAY

YANKEE

ZULU




EXERCISE: Using The Alphabet System

In order to memorize the phonetic alphabet in the first place, use the Journey Method (Step 10) to devise a route consisting of 26 stages. Plant the image you create for each letter along each stage of your route. Perhaps an alpha male orangutan is at the first stage, an operatenor to whom an audience is shouting Bravo is placed at the second stage, and so on, until a Zulu warrior finishes the route at stage 26.


Keep reviewing the journey until you know all 26 letters in their symbolic forms, backward and forward through the alphabet. Each image needs to be so ingrained that it instantly comes to mind, and you do not need to scan through the journey to recall the phonetic letter and its associated image.


Now, use the Link Method (Step 7) to memorize the following sequence of 10 letters by linking the images you have created and already memorized for the Alphabet System. Write down the letters in your notebook.


P N U S J M E V M S


Score 10 points for each letter you can recall in sequence before making a mistake.

Maximum points: 100 Untrained: 30+ Improver: 60+ Master: 90+


You now know the order of the planets starting with the furthest from the Sun:


PLUTO NEPTUNE URANUS SATURN JUPITER

MARS EARTH VENUS MERCURY SUN





chapter 2


Memory Construction


• Step 15 How to Remember Names and Faces

• Step 16 How to Remember Directions

• Step 17 How to Remember Spellings

• Step 18 How to Remember Countries and Their Capitals

• Step 19 Learning a Foreign Language

• Step 20 How to Remember Your Past

• Step 21 How to Remember the Elements

• Step 22 Develop Your Declarative Memory

• Step 23 The Dominic System I

• Step 24 How to Remember Jokes

• Step 25 How to Remember Fiction

• Step 26 Read Faster and Remember More

• Step 27 How to Remember Quotations

• Step 28 Memory and Mind Maps®

• Step 29 How to Remember Speeches and Presentations

• Step 30 The Art of Revision and Maximizing Recall





In chapter 1 you evaluated the performance of your untrained memory. You also learned about the key principles and skills involved in training your memory: these are the basic tools in your memory tool box.

In this chapter we are going to practise using those tools – Association, Imagination, the Link Method, the Journey Method, and so forth – by applying them to the memorization of all sorts of different information, such as word spellings (Step 17) and the capital cities of the world (Step 18). You will soon see just how versatile and adaptable these techniques are, and how useful you will find them in many day-to-day situations – for example, when you need to put names to faces (Step 15), remember directions when you have stopped to ask the way (Step 16), or call to mind a joke whenever you want to amuse your friends (Step 24).

I shall also be introducing you to some new techniques, such as the Dominic System (Step 23). This is my own method for remembering longer sequences of numbers by associating all the two-digit numbers from 00 to 99 with a character. Don’t worry, you will start with just the first 20 digits from 00 to 19. The exercises and tests along the way will show you how much your memory is improving with every step.





15 How to Remember Names and Faces


“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”

JOHN F. KENNEDY (1917–63)

Of all the concerns that people have shared with me about their memory, putting names to faces is number one on the list. As humans we have an inbuilt mechanism for recognizing faces (this is probably an evolutionary hangover from the time when we needed to discern our friends from our enemies). If remembering a face presents no difficulty, then why is it that so many of us have a problem when it comes to remembering names? There’s a very simple answer: our names do not describe our faces.

My first name is Dominic, but this does not help to portray my face to you. And the matter is not made easier by the fact that I share my surname – O’Brien – with tens of thousands of others around the world. Imagine trying to memorize one hundred people in a room whose names were just Bob, Mary, Michael or Jane.


GIVE A FACE A PLACE

What are the most effective ways of ensuring you never experience that embarrassing moment at a party, which we’ve all suffered at some time, when you are forced to ask, “Sorry, what was your name again?” 30 seconds after being introduced to someone? The most important thing is to recognize that we tend to associate a person with a particular place. Think of a time when you have bumped into someone in the street whose face is very familiar but whose name escapes you. What is the first thing you do to try to recall who this person is? You ask yourself, “Where do I know this person from?” It is the place that will release most of the memories connected with this person including, hopefully, his or her name.

One trick I use to memorize people for the first time is to designate a place for each of them. I do this by imagining where I might expect to find this person. Let’s say you are being introduced to a lady at a party and for some reason you think that she looks like a librarian. Perhaps she has a studious air about her. Now you have prepared a location for her. You are told that her name is “Margaret”. Now think of someone that you know of called Margaret (a relative, friend, actress, politician, or whoever) and picture her at your local library. The first Margaret you think of is the ex British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher – so you imagine her working at the library. The next time you see this lady’s face you will be able to retrace her name in the following way:


FACE LIBRARY THATCHER SCENE MARGARET

This may seem like a lengthy process to connect the face to the name, but remember that your brain recalls information in a flash as long as there is chain of associated connections for it to travel along.


FOCUS ON FACIAL FEATURES

If I meet someone whose features are particularly striking, instead of associating that person with a place, I sometimes find it is easier to connect their name directly to their physical appearance. For example, you are introduced to a man called Peter Byrd and immediately you connect his name with his face as he has a rather hooked nose (a bit like a bird’s beak). Your brain can now make more connections and quickly seizes on “Pet”, short for Peter, and there you have your link: Pet Bird.

I find the best way to tackle a complicated surname is to break it down into syllables and then turn these syllables into images. Names, like numbers, need to be translated into images so that our brains can digest them. Our brains thrive on making connections, so when we are confronted with a name that doesn’t represent a face, then the answer is to forge an artificial link between the two.

The following exercise will give you a chance to try out your brain’s agility in making links. You can use any of the techniques described in this step: that is, place a person in a familiar location, or identify physical resemblances, or distinctive characteristics of a name or face to make associations and form memorable images. For example, how might you commit Maria Hutton to memory? The surname “Hutton” sounds to me like “hat on”, so I picture Maria Hutton wearing a hat, with her braids poking out. I notice that she has rosy cheeks, so I imagine she is flushed from singing the line “I’ve just met a girl named Maria” from the musical, West Side Story. This will remind me of her first name.





EXERCISE: Matching Names to Faces


Study the following 10 faces and try to form links to their names:



Now cover these faces and look at the same 10 faces in a different sequence below and try to match the correct names to the faces.



Score Five points for each correct first name and five points for each correct surname.

Maximum points: 100 Untrained: 20+ Improver: 50+ Master: 80+





16 How to Remember Directions


Does the following predicament sound familiar to you? You are in an unfamiliar area and you’re late for an appointment. You stop to ask a passer-by for directions, and will have to rely on your memory, as you do not have a pen and paper to hand. The passer-by bombards you with a sequence of directions that you know you are going to forget unless you hear them repeated several times. But you don’t have time for this, and you decide to take a chance that you will remember the directions to get you to your destination. Of course, it is likely that you’ll need to stop again a couple of miles down the street and ask someone else for further directions.

However, by applying a simple memory technique you need only listen to a set of directions once. Let’s imagine you are lost in an American town and a sympathetic stranger gives you the following set of directions:


Example of a Set of Direction:

1 TAKE THE SECOND LEFT INTO KING STREET

2 AT THE GARDEN CENTER TURN LEFT INTO FINSBURY STREET

3 AT THE END OF THIS BLOCK TURN RIGHT

4 FOLLOW THE STREET SIGNS TO THE ART GALLERY

5 AT THE SECOND SET OF STOP LIGHTS TURN LEFT

6 AT THE “NEEDLES RESTAURANT” TURN LEFT INTO RAM’S COURT

7 LOOK FOR THE RED BUILDING, NUMBER EIGHT

At first glance this may appear to be too much information to absorb all in one go. However, if you have been working through the exercises in this book so far, you should already be feeling confident about your progress, particularly when it comes to memorizing a sequence of just seven pieces of information.

This is how I tackle memorizing directions: I regard them as a sequence of shopping items, say, and I use the Journey Method to store them quickly. Naturally, you need to have your journey pre-prepared.

As there are seven individual directions, you need a short journey of just seven stages, which you can use to store the information. For example, you could use a favourite vacation destination as your backdrop for the journey.


Example of a Journey through a Familiar Vacation Location:

1 HOTEL ENTRANCE

2 LOBBY

3 ELEVATORS

4 RESTAURANT RECEPTION

5 TABLE BY THE WINDOW

6 BALCONY

7 SWIMMING POOL





EXERCISE: Remembering Directions


Once you have prepared your seven-stage journey, as described on pages 54–5, you are ready to memorize the directions.


Remember to always position yourself at the first stage of your journey before you start to memorize the instructions. Let’s take a look at how I would see the first few stages of the journey. In this case, I start by picturing myself at the entrance to the hotel:

FIRST STAGE FIRST DIRECTION

Hotel entrance Take the second left into King Street



There are no hard and fast rules as to what method you use to translate numbers and words into pictures. However, I tend to use Number Shapes (see Step 12) whenever a single-digit number is involved, as in “second left”. So, to the left of the hotel entrance, I picture a swan (number shape for 2) flying over a startled king.

SECOND STAGE SECOND DIRECTION

Lobby At the Garden Center turn left into Finsbury Street



The hotel lobby is furnished with an array of dramatic plants and flowers. To the left of the reception area I imagine a shark’s fin poking out of one of the plants. All that’s required here is an image to trigger the name of the street. A shark’s fin should be enough to remember the name Finsbury without having to concern myself with the second syllable, -bury.

THIRD STAGE THIRD DIRECTION

Elevators At the end of this block turn right



To remember to turn right I picture myself taking the righthand elevator.

FOURTH STAGE FOURTH DIRECTION

Restaurant reception Follow the street signs to the art gallery



At the restaurant front desk I imagine the headwaiter admiring a collection of oil paintings hanging on the wall above the desk.

FIFTH STAGE FIFTH DIRECTION

Table by the window At the second set of stop lights turn left



I picture a set of stop lights in the middle of the table. A swan flies over the top of the lights and out of the open window on the left.


Now over to you. Continue creating connections between the remaining two journey stages and two sets of directions, perhaps finishing with a scene that connects the swimming pool with the Number Shape for 8: a snowman. Quickly review your journey to make sure you have all seven scenes fixed in your head, then see if you can write down the directions in your notebook.


Score 10 points for each correct direction before a wrong turn is made.

Maximum points: 70 Untrained: 20+ Improver: 40+ Master: 60+





17 How to Remember Spellings


Whenever I am forced to think twice about how to spell a commonly misspelt word, I tend to rely on a mnemonic strategy that I used to rectify misspelling when I was first confronted with the dilemma. For example, I know I will never confuse the correct spelling of the word separate with its commonly misspelled counterpart, seperate, because I think of a para-trooper landing in the middle of the word separating the two halves: se para te.





EXERCISE: Identifying Correct Spellings of Words


As a tease, here is a selection of some of the most commonly misspelt words. The correct and incorrect versions are scattered between both columns. Can you identify the correctly spelt words?

ACCIDENTLY ACCIDENTALLY

ACCOMMODATE ACCOMODATE

CEMETARY CEMETERY

DEFINITELY DEFINATELY

ECSTASY ECSTACY

EMBARRASS EMBARASS

HANDKERCHIEF HANKERCHIEF

INDEPENDANT INDEPENDENT

MOMENTO MEMENTO

SUPERCEDE SUPERSEDE

Check the correct spellings listed below to see how many words you recognized correctly.



Score 10 points for each word that you recognized correctiy.

Maximum points: 100 Untrained: 10+ Improver: 50+ Master: 100



The trick is to look out for connections between certain patterns of letters and the meanings of the words. Then use visualization and association to make those connections memorable. For example, notice the symmetry of the three Es in the word c E m E t E ry. They stick out like gravestones. I put my hand in my pocket to pull out my handkerchief. I use my memory to remind me that a memento, not a momento, is a reminder.

The mechanism on which memory works and thrives is association. Somewhere, in any word you care to think of, there is a link to be forged between the spelling and the meaning of a word.

If you didn’t fair too well on your first attempt at that list of 10 words, then read through them again, this time spotting any little connection that will ensure you get the spelling right.





18 How to Remember Countries and Their Capitals


In Steps 3 and 4 we looked at the use of mnemonics as an aid to help us remember anything from the colours of the spectrum to the order of the nine planets. (Can you still remember them?) And so it follows that mnemonics can be used to memorize a whole array of geographical facts. If I had been introduced to the world of mnemonics when I was at school, I might have found the whole process of learning much more enjoyable.

If only my geography teacher had pointed out that one way to remember that Canberra is the capital of Australia is to look at the shape of the country. Australia is shaped somewhat like a camera, which helps me to remember its capital, Canberra.

If my teacher had said that the way to remember the difference between the Arctic and Antarctic was to think of looking up at an arch and down at an ant, then I might have found their geographical positions less confusing.

Mnemonics are a great way to remove the drudgery of learning by rote as they provide chains of links between pieces of information that can easily be retraced and therefore recalled at a later date. It’s almost as if short-term memory is bypassed as the data gets transferred straight into long-term memory where it is cemented with vivid, symbolic, associated imagery.





EXERCISE: Countries and Capitals


Take a look at the following pairs of lists and, using imagination and visualization, try to make a link between each country and its capital. I have deliberately avoided the more familiar countries to make this exercise more of a challenge.


For example, to remember that Tallinn is the capital of Estonia I picture a lady I know called Esther walking into an Inn with a tall entrance. When I see the word Estonia again I will be reminded of Esther, which will lead me to the tall Inn and the capital, Tallinn. Remember, all you require is a trigger to help you to recall the data. The images you choose do not have to be exact matches.

COUNTRY CAPITAL

ANGOLA LUANDA

THE BAHAMAS NASSAU

BULGARIA SOFIA

COSTA RICA SAN JOSÉ

ESTONIA TALLINN

FIJI SUVA

MOROCCO RABAT

OMAN MUSCAT

QATAR DOHA

ZAMBIA LUSAKA

Now find out how well you made those links by answering the following questions in your notebook:



1 What is the capital of Fiji?

2 Lusaka is the capital of which country?

3 What is the capital of The Bahamas?

4 What is the capital of Qatar?

5 Tallinn is the capital of which country?

6 Muscat is the capital of which country?

7 What is the capital of Angola?

8 San José is the capital of which country?

9 What is the capital of Bulgaria?

10 Rabat is the capital of which country?


Score 10 points for each correct answer.

Maximum points: 100 Untrained: 30+ Improver: 60+ Master: 80+


A typical score for someone who has read through these geographical facts just once without using any memory devices would be around 30 points. The information would need to be read over and over again before a perfect score could be achieved. However, the little time you spent in creating associations between these countries and their capitals should have enabled you to absorb the information much more effectively, resulting in a higher score. If you scored more than 60 points, then your memory is shaping up very well indeed.





19 Learning a Foreign Language


Whether you need to learn another language for business or travel, want to help your children study a second language, or just want basic conversational skills in another language, this step reveals how it is possible to learn foreign words at a rapid pace.

The key is to create an image by finding a common link between the sound of a foreign word and its meaning in your own language. For example, bacon is Speck in German. To make a link, picture a slice of bacon with an unsavoury-looking speck on it.

To make this method even more effective we need a place to store these images for instant retrieval. In many languages, we will also need to know the gender of each noun. My Gender Zones method enables us to perform both these functions simultaneously.





Gender Zones


In languages with two genders such as Spanish or French, Gender Zones provide two discrete geographical regions in your mind where everything is either masculine or feminine. For example, any French word that is masculine I would place in my home county of Surrey, England. Any feminine word I would place in another county, Cornwall. Both regions must be familiar to you to make this method work. For example, by fixing my mind on a certain hospital in Surrey, I know that hospital in French is masculine, un hôpital. To remember that post office is a feminine word, la poste, I think of a specific post office in Cornwall. Once I remind myself of these places I will never confuse the gender of the two words.

These Gender Zones also act as filing systems for storing your linked images. For example, the French for sea is mer, which sounds to me like “mayor”. I picture a mayor in full regalia swimming in the sea off the coast of Cornwall, and now I have performed two tasks in one image. I know that sea is mer, and feminine, because I have placed the image in Cornwall (my feminine zone).





EXERCISE: Gender Zones


Try learning the following 10 Spanish words and their genders. Use the three keys of memory – association, location and imagination. Choose your own Gender Zones, then process each word in the following way:



1 Look at the gender of the word and place it in the correct zone.

2 Find a link between the sound of the Spanish word and its meaning.

3 Create an image or scene and place it strategically in a precise part of the chosen zone.



So, when I look at the first word in the list opposite, I know I have to think of a place in Cornwall (my feminine zone) connected with salt. I think of a friend of mine, Sally or Sal, dispensing salt over a plate of fish and chips at a little café I know well in Cornwall. Now you work through the rest of the words on the list:




ENGLISH SPANISH GENDER (M/F)

Salt La sal (f)

Foot El pie (m)

Field El campo (m)

Sleeve La manga (f)

Cat El gato (m)

Cot La cuna (f)

Oar El remo (m)

Wall El muro (m)

Star La estrella (f)

Bed La cama (f)

Now copy down the 10 English words in your notebook. Then cover this page and see if you can write down the Spanish equivalent and its correct gender alongside each of the English nouns.


Score Five points for each correct word and five for each gender.

Maximum points: 100 Untrained: 30+ Improver: 60+ Master: 90+


Once you have established your Gender Zones to store all your nouns, there is nothing to stop you from designating other areas that are familiar to you for adjectives, verbs, numbers, months, and so on. For example, the most commonly used adjectives could be stored in your local park. Action verbs such as to run, to walk, to jump, to swim, and so on could all be stored at your local sports complex. Use exactly the same techniques you have employed in the exercise above to create these new zones and their word links.





20 How to Remember Your Past


How far back in your past can you remember? Very few people can remember anything of the first year of their life, and most can remember only from the age of three or four onward. Thus, the few memories that we have of our childhood are very precious to us.

We attach great significance to these first memories, setting each one as some kind of milestone in our early life. Whatever it is that has fixed them in our minds, these memories play a major role in shaping us – they are part of who we are.

One method I use to return to memories from the past is what I call “Time Travel”. The idea is to return to a location from your past, which will trigger a series of memories. The location could be a school, a relative’s house, or a village you once lived in.

In the following exercise you can try out this method for yourself. Your aim is to return to a particular location and time in your past, so that you can release and enrich your memories.

This is a beneficial exercise for the memory in itself, and you may decide to spend five or 10 minutes a day working on a specific place and time from your past. You should notice that each time you return to the scene you will be starting with a clearer overview of that time gone by. As your associations with that particular place and time strengthen, you will find that one memory will trigger another. You may also find that memories will pop into your dreams, and pieces of the mental jigsaw puzzle that were once lost may now be restored.





EXERCISE: Time Travel


This exercise gives you the oppotunity to try out the Time Travel method for yourself. Remember to use those three keys of memory – association, location and imagination – to conjure up the scene from the past and bring it to life.


1 Choose a specific starting point such as a school playground, a museum, an old attic or a special part of your garden where you frequently spent time. Wherever you start, try to picture little details in your mind’s eye: maybe a painting on a wall, a glass cabinet containing a book you once read, or whatever.


2 Try to recall people connected with this place: their voices, the way they laughed, certain mannerisms.


3 Try to recapture the sounds you once heard in this place, such as a squeaky door, a train that used to pass by, children playing outside, or the music you listened to at that time. What smells do you associate with this place? Fresh flowers? Polished wood? Try to recall how your surroundings felt to touch, such as a stone wall or iron gate, or the fabric covering the arm of an old chair.


4 Try to remember your emotional state at that specific time. Were you generally happy, melancholy, care-free, unsure of the world, in love? The more layers you can tap into from your past, the more memories will be released.





21 How to Remember the Elements


A few years ago I made a television commercial in Florida on the subject of memory. I was asked to illustrate the power of my techniques by training two school children, aged around 11 years old, to memorize the first 30 elements of the Periodic Table.

Neither child had been taught any memory techniques before, and yet after about 20 minutes both children were able to recite the correct order of the elements backward and forward, and if they were asked, for example, “What is the atomic number of Phosphorus?” they were able to give the correct answer, “15”.

To teach the children how to memorize the elements, I took them on a short journey around the television studios, stopping at suitable places where I asked them to imagine the different elements coming to life.

We started at the front gates of the studios where they imagined a small explosion taking place. This would help them to remember the first element, Hydrogen. We continued along our route, stopping at each stage to make an association. At the fourth stop, they couldn’t think of an association for Beryllium (the fourth element), so instead I asked them to picture a little old lady named Beryl doing some knitting in the editing suite (the fourth stop). At the tenth stop (the recording studio), they pictured a flashing neon sign above the door, and so on. By the end of our journey we had converted all 30 elements into meaningful scenes which were easily recalled, and the journey preserved the order of this list.





EXERCISE: The Periodic Table


Here is a list of the first 15 elements of the Periodic Table:



ATOMIC NUMBER ELEMENT

1 Hydrogen

2 Helium

3 Lithium

4 Beryllium

5 Boron

6 Carbon

7 Nitrogen

8 Oxygen

9 Fluorine

10 Neon

11 Sodium

12 Magnesium

13 Aluminium

14 Silicon

15 Phosphorus

Using your own journey, prepare a route of 15 stops and use it to memorize the first 15 elements. By now you should be able to do this in about eight minutes. Then write down the 15 elements in order in your notebook.


Score 10 points for each element you can recall before making a mistake.

Maximum points: 150 Untrained: 50+ Improver: 90+ Master: 140+





22 Develop Your Declarative Memory


In this step we are going to look at how developing our “declarative” or conscious memory can speed up our ability to absorb new information. Let’s say you wish to learn a new sport or discipline, such as tennis or yoga. You will spend the first lesson converting what your instructor, DVD or workbook is telling you into physical actions. The conscious effort you make to memorize the order of these instructions is known as declarative memory.

In time, your actions become automatic and there is no longer any conscious act of recall. But memory still plays its part – the kind known as reflexive memory (learning by repetition). However, wouldn’t it be easier if your declarative memory was able to absorb and recall all these commands in an instant? Think how much sooner you could acquire this new skill if you could learn every piece of advice accurately.

The Journey Method can radically improve the efficiency of your declarative memory. It gives you the best possible start if you are learning a new discipline, especially one that involves many moves to make in sequence. In the exercise opposite I am going to show you how a sequence of yoga moves can be stored quickly into long-term memory using a short journey. By initially performing each posture in a different room or area of your home you will implant the physical memory of each posture as well as fix the order of the moves in your mind. So when you come to practise the sequence as a whole, your journey will remind you of the order.





EXERCISE: Simplified Yoga Poses


These five poses are adapted from the Kneeling-Cat-Swan yoga pose:


1 Kneel down with your hands on your thighs, eyes closed.


2 As you breathe in, gently lift your arms overhead and come up to a raised kneeling position.


3 As you breathe out, gently bring your hands to the floor so you are kneeling on all fours.


4 Inhale, bend your elbows and lift the centre of your chest forward and upward. (This is the Cat pose.)


5 As you breathe out, push your bottom back so you are sitting on your heels. Leave your arms stretched out in front of you. (This is the Swan pose.)


Plan a five-stage journey around your home so that you can store each posture at a different stage along the route. For example, you might store the first posture in your hallway, the second one in your living room, and so on.


Position yourself physically at your first stage and perform the first posture. Then move on to your second stage and perform the second pose, and so on. Later, see if you can practise the complete sequence as a fluid series of movements by mentally running through your five-stage journey





23 The Dominic System I


In Steps 12 and 13 we looked at simple systems to translate numbers into pictures using Number Shapes and Number Rhymes. These mnemonic devices are a great introduction to learning what I call the “language” of numbers, and I use them for memorizing anything involving a single-digit number.

However, when I began memorizing much larger numbers for competitions I realized that I needed a method that would allow me to recognize numbers instantly as pictures, to the point where I could read through and make sense of a sequence of 100 digits, say, in much the same way as I am able to read through and understand a sentence composed of 100 letters grouped into words.

Thus the Dominic System was born. Dominic stands for: Decipherment Of Mnemonically Interpreted Numbers Into Characters. This system is more complex than Number Shapes or Number Rhymes. However, if you invest a little time in learning it, you will find it a much more efficient method of converting numbers into symbolic images.

With the Dominic System any two-digit number (and of course, there are 100 of them from 00 to 99) can be translated into a person. Why turn numbers into people? For the simple reason that people, especially ones who are familiar to me and vivid in character, are so much easier to remember than numbers. Why not choose objects instead of people? Because I find people are more flexible than objects. They can be imagined in almost any situation and they react in countless ways to different environments. Throw a custard pie at a chair and not much happens, but throw one at a person and you are bound to get a response.


HOW DOES IT WORK?

To start with, in your notebook, write the 100 numbers from 00 to 99 in a column. You will need three more columns: Letters/Person/Action and Prop (see page 75 for reference). You will see why in a moment. Then take a look at any of these numbers that may have significance for you. For example, 10 instantly makes me think of a British Prime Minister because that’s where he or she lives, at 10 Downing Street. Perhaps 49 triggers a player from the “49ers” American Superbowl team.

When I see 57 I automatically think of my Godfather because I was born in 1957. It doesn’t matter how you get there as long as the number always leads you to that particular person.

Once you have exhausted this line of investigation, then the next step is to assign letters to the remaining two-digit numbers (the ones which you can’t immediately convert into people). To do this you will need to assign all the digits to letters of the alphabet, following a standard set of conversions. Here is the set I use:


1=A 2=B 3=C 4=D 5=E 6=S 7=G 8=H 9=N 0=O



Numbers 1 to 5 and 7 and 8 are paired with the letters that match their positions in the alphabet. O represents zero because they look the same. S is paired with six because six has a strong “S” sound. N represents 9 because the word nine contains two “N”s.

Once you have learnt this simple sequence, numbers can be paired together to form the initials of various people. These might include friends, relatives, politicians, comedians, actors, sportsmen and women, even infamous villains.

Let’s see how this might work. Take any two-digit combination, such as 72. By translating this number into its equivalent letters from the Dominic Alphabet you get GB (7=G, 2=B). Who can you think of that has the initials GB? George Bush perhaps? George Bush now becomes your key image, or rather, key person, for the number 72. The number 40 translates into DO (4=D, 0=O), which just happens to be my own initials.

It is not necessary for you to conjure up a perfect photographic image of these people, you just need to recognize them for what they represent. The best way to do this is to assign an action and prop to each person. George Bush’s action and prop combination is waving the American flag. Dominic O’Brien’s action and prop combination is dealing out playing cards.

Now all of a sudden numbers become meaningful. We have breathed life into them and they begin to take on a personality of their own.

In the advanced section of this book I will be showing you how you can use the Dominic System to memorize groups of four or more numbers by combining the characters. But before we get to that stage it’s a good idea to start with the first few combinations of two-digit numbers to get a feel for how this system works.

Here are the combinations of the numbers from 00 to 09:


NUMBER LETTERS PERSON ACTION AND PROP

00 00 Olive Oyl Opening can of spinach

01 OA Oswald Avery Looking down a microscope

02 OB Orlando Bloom Wearing elf ears

03 OC Oliver Cromwell Loading musket

04 OD Officer Dibble Chasing Top Cat

05 OE Old Etonian Wearing boater hat

06 OS Oliver Stone Sitting in his Director’s chair

01 OG Organ Grinder Holding monkey

08 OH Oliver Hardy Wearing bowler hat

09 ON Oliver North Swearing an oath

I have suggested a name, action and prop for each set of initials. Either transfer my examples to the list in your notebook or create your own characters, and commit each one to memory.

Now move on to the next 10 numbers (10 to 19). Again, use the characters I have suggested or think up your own.


NUMBER LETTERS PERSON ACTION AND PROP

10 AO Annie Oakley Firing a gun

II AA Andre Agassi Swinging a tennis racquet

12 AB Anne Boteyn Being beheaded

13 AC Al Capone Carrying bottle of liquor

14 AD Artful Dodger Picking a pocket

15 AE Albert Einstein Chalking a chalkboard

16 AS Arnold Schwarzenegger Flexing his muscles

11 AG Alec Guinness Wielding a lightsaber

18 AH Adolf Hitler Goose-stepping

19 AN Alfred Nobel Lighting dynamite

The Dominic System is a key memory method which we will primarily use in conjunction with the Journey Method. I will introduce you to the Dominic System gradually, at a pace designed in relation to this 52-step course. And as I do so, I encourage you to take the time and effort to learn each set of initials which will eventually give you a relatively simple language of 100 people. This system will ensure that ultimately you end up with an amazingly efficient facility for memorizing numerical information.





EXERCISE: Using the Dominic System I


If you have learned the first 20 people in the Dominic System (see pages 75–6), you should now be able to memorize the following random sequence of 20 digits using the Journey Method (Step 10).


1 8 1 1 0 6 0 7 0 0 1 8 1 7 1 2 0 3 0 8


Your route need consist of only 10 stages. Create a journey – for example, around your garden – and see each two-digit number as a person planted at each stage of the journey. This is how the numbers translate into letters:

18 11 06 07 00 18 17 12 03 08

AH AA OS OG OO AH AG AB OC OH

Using the three keys of imagination, association and location, work your way through the sequence starting with the person represented by 18. I would picture Adolf Hitler (AH=18) goose-stepping by the rose bed. Next is Andre Agassi (AA=11) playing tennis by the shed. And so on ... until at the far end of my garden is Oliver Hardy (OH=08), one of the silent-movie comedy duo Laurel and Hardy, wearing a bowler hat.


Write the numbers down in your notebook. How many numbers can you recall in sequence before a mistake is made?


Score Five points for each correctly remembered digit before you make your first error.

Maximum points: 100 Untrained: 30+ Improver: 60+ Master: 80+





24 How to Remember Jokes


Why is it that we so often struggle to remember jokes? Well, when we listen to jokes we are usually so busy enjoying them that we don’t give a moment’s thought to committing them to memory.

Summarizing a joke visually, either by translating it into a scene or by linking it imaginatively with an appropriate image, is one way to fix it more firmly in our minds. In theory, we have only to recall the image and the joke will spring back to life – assuming that it’s a memorable joke in the first place. But how can we be sure of recollecting our visual trigger? Imagine you find yourself chatting with a friend about the circus, and deep in the back of your mind lies a joke about a lion tamer. You attempted, many months ago, to commit this joke to memory by linking it with a vivid image of the lion tamer swallowed by the lion – a fate which only just escapes him in the joke itself. But because you have forgotten that you once heard and tried to memorize this joke, your friend’s references to circuses are not enough to trigger the memory of the image. And so you miss the opportunity to amuse.

What, then, can we do to ensure that the joke we once memorized springs to mind exactly when we want it? The answer is that we must consciously build a repertoire of jokes and rehearse them from time to time until they all become second nature to us. Whatever memory technique is used thus becomes a kind of scaffolding: it is useful for the preparatory stage – building the repertoire – but can be discarded once the whole body of jokes is well established in our mind. To build your repertoire, use the Journey Method (see Step 10). Say your house or apartment has 10 rooms; you might add to this a friend’s house or apartment to give you 20 rooms, or 20 positions, in your overall journey. Attach an image to each new joke that you learn, and place each image mentally in the next room you come to, going around the houses in your pre-determined sequence.

Tell five different people each new joke, soon after you have heard it: this also helps to fix the memory. And from time to time rehearse your whole repertoire of 20 jokes once you have filled both houses. In time these jokes will become as familiar to you as the alphabet, and you will be able to summon up any of them whenever the occasion arises.





Anecdotal and Word-based Jokes


Jokes often take the form of mini stories, in which case a single vivid image may not be enough to remember them by. The solution might be to attach an image to each separate episode within the joke, then imaginatively link each image to a particular feature within the room to which you have assigned the joke as a whole. Further guidelines are given in Step 25, on how to remember fiction. Many jokes, of course, depend heavily on word play, and you might decide that you will need to put extra effort into memorizing key phrases – in which case consider the advice given for Step 40, on memorizing poetry.





25 How to Remember Fiction


Reading novels is a great pastime for vacations. Our various commitments can make it hard to grab more than half an hour or so at a time, and then perhaps not more than two or three times per week. So it’s easy to forget the beginning of the book before you are half-way through. Plot connections can pass you by. You may fail to understand motivation that has been set up many pages back. You may completely miss the point of one or more sub-plots, even if the main plot is well within your grasp.

“No, I can follow even complex plots pretty well,” you may protest. But how long do you keep all but the most rudimentary details in your head afterwards? A month or two? Six months? If for so little time, that’s a pity because you are missing out on the retrospective enjoyment to be gained from your reading. Using memory discipline will make your reading something you can appreciate in retrospect as well as in the present.

Few people would want to go to the trouble of learning a novel by the Journey Method, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t develop a Mind Map (Step 28) to help you get your bearings. The most useful technique, though, is to invest the book with imaginative energy. Picture the scenes and encounters as vividly as you can. Try to empathize with characters’ predicaments. To help you imagine a particular figure in terms of their appearance, personality or life circumstances, summon up someone you know who fits, or almost fits, the bill. Use places you know to help you visualize the settings, if this helps. Or if the location is exotic, borrow from what you have seen in magazines or on the television.

Where many readers go astray is in imagining that a novel is to be experienced only for as long as you’re reading it. In fact, your recall will be better if you let the characters and their situations live for a while in your head after you have put the book down. Imagine what it feels like to be a character in this book.





EXERCISE: Remembering a Complete Movie


Movies are like novels: it’s easy to forget even the good ones after a few months – and when particular films come up in conversation you may kick yourself for not being able to remember what you liked, or disliked, about them. Of course, some movies – particularly ones involving crime detection – deliberately tease with false plot trails. Flashbacks can also be confusing. After seeing a movie like this, it’s fun to go out with friends and try to reconstruct the twists of the plot from beginning to end. You might even do this competitively, each person scoring points for the details they can recall. The main characters’ names should be easy enough if you’ve really concentrated (you’d be surprised how many people come out of a movie without having absorbed this basic data); but see if you can recall minor characters as well, and place names, and the way people’s homes were furnished. In fact, the scope for memory testing is limitless.





26 Read Faster and Remember More


We live in an age of information. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to read every word in every piece of media presented to us. The good news is that we don’t need to read every single word on a page to understand its content. In fact, by focusing on key words, you can comprehend and store the information just as efficiently as you would if you read the text word for word, thus speeding up your reading. So, you could say that speed reading is a speed memorization technique.





THE PRINCIPLES OF SPEED READING


The average reading speed is a little more than 200 words per minute for the average student with varying rates of comprehension. However, this speed can be increased – in excess of 1,000 words per minute with practice – by following these inextricably linked keys of speed reading:

Use a pointer. Although it may seem unnatural to begin with, using some form of pointer, such as a pen or your finger, helps the eye glide smoothly along the line. This allows you to develop a continuous rhythm, without distraction. Read a whole passage – or a short article – without breaking off, reading each sentence only once and taking in only the essentials.

If you give your full attention, you will not need to back-track: minor words need not detain you. Keep up a smooth, steady pace, and try increasing the speed with which you move the pointer.





EXERCISE: Speed Reading


This exercise lets you experiment with the technique of speed reading. First you need to calculate your existing reading speed, then monitor yourself as you work at improving it.


1 Take any piece of continuous prose in a book, magazine or newspaper and read, in your usual way, as much text as would fill one page in this book – about 250 words. Use a stopwatch to time yourself; or ask a friend to keep time for you in seconds and indicate to them as soon as you reach the end of your passage. Then calculate your reading speed using this formula:


(Total words read ÷ Time taken in seconds) x 60 = Words per minute


2 Check your level of comprehension by jotting down in your notebook the main points you have absorbed from your reading, including all facts and examples. Or get your friend to ask you comprehension questions. Satisfy yourself that you have absorbed the essentials of the passage.


3 Take another passage of similar length and similar density of content. This time, apply the speed reading principles described opposite.


4 Calculate your new reading speed using the formula above. Check your comprehension as before. Compare your second result with your first.


5 Experiment with different speeds of reading on different passages until you find a workable balance of speed and comprehension.





27 How to Remember Quotations


To be able to slip into your ordinary conversation a quote from a writer such as Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain or a thinker such as Albert Einstein or Ralph Waldo Emerson is a sure way to impress or to give you the advantage in a debate. But quotations are so slippery! And there’s no point in half-remembering a quotation, or giving up half-way through or not remembering who said it, as that’s certain to undermine the impression you want to give of being on nodding terms with the great and good – at least through their writings. In this step we look at ways in which useful or inspiring quotations can be memorized for long-term retention.

As with jokes, the best way to fix a quote in your memory is to associate it with a vivid image. But there are two differences to bear in mind. First, with quotations you need to be able to recall the text verbatim (although with foreign quotations there will usually be some leeway over the translation). And second, you will need to remember who it was who wrote or uttered the remark in the first place.

You may find that the best way to store quotes is to build a repertoire of them using the Journey Method, following the advice given for remembering jokes (Step 24). As we’re dealing with the written word, a book store or local library makes an ideal location for your journey – you could even place each quote in the relevant department within the building. If you can, devise an image that fuses the author of the quote with its content, and store this in the appropriate stage of your journey, as part of your quotation repertoire. Further aspects might be memorized to help you to reconstruct the particular phraseology of the quote.

Now let’s take an example, and see how you might approach it. The following quote is from Sir Winston Churchill:

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

The first step is to find a key image which summarizes the essence of the quote. Now the classic image in this quote is the glass that the optimist would describe as half-full, the pessimist as half-empty. So you picture Churchill – rotund and enjoying a cigar – holding a half-full glass (of Scotch perhaps) with an optimistic expression on his face. The “Win” of Winston links with optimism and further reinforces the message. You might notice that the two opposing views are a mirror image of each other (“the difficulty in every opportunity … the opportunity in every difficulty”), and imagine Churchill reflected in the mirror-like surface of the glass.

If you are unfamiliar with the author of the quote, and thus have to remember a name that is devoid of associations for you, you might break the surname down into syllables and memorize one or more of these, using your own imagination in following any of the associational links I have previously described in this book.





EXERCISE: Remembering Quotations


Take a look at the following three quotes. Try to memorize them by convenient imagery (use any of the techniques described on pages 84–5). Devise an image for the source of each quote, too. Obviously, different people are going to have different degrees of familiarity with the names. A sports enthusiast will only need to remember “Jor-” (jaw?) for Michael Jordan’s name to roll out, while someone who has no interest in sport may need a more elaborate cue, for the first name (the archangel?) as well as the second (the river in the Holy Land?).


Post your images in convenient places using the Journey Method – perhaps the first three rooms of your house or apartment. We are testing only short-term memory here, so the aim is to see if you can remember, 30 minutes from now, all three quotes plus the Churchill quote on page 85. Set an alarm clock.

“I can accept failure. Everybody fails sometimes. But I can’t accept not trying.”

MICHAEL JORDAN, AMERICAN BASKETBALL STAR

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

SIR ISAAC NEWTON, HISTORIC SCIENTIST

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”

VOLTAIRE, FRENCH THINKER OF THE 18TH CENTURY

Scoring 10 points for each correctly remembered quote (you must be word-perfect to score) and five points for each correct name.

Maximum points: 60 Untrained: 20+ Improver: 30+ Master: 50+





28 Memory and Mind Maps®


Mind Mapping offers a simplified diagrammatic overview of a subject and is an ideal way to present information in a visual form that your brain can easily grasp. It is a useful technique for recording a summary of what you have read in a book, newspaper or magazine or heard in a lecture or in a TV or radio program.

Mind-Maps® were invented in the 1960s by my friend and colleague, Tony Buzan. Tony saw Mind Maps as a way of utilizing the left and right hemispheres of the brain simultaneously, in cooperation with each other. The analytical, logical left brain understands and assesses the information; while the imaginative, intuitive right brain finds a visual form in which to present it. Below is a summary of the different processes associated with each hemisphere, to help you understand how Mind Mapping works.


Left Hemisphere Right Hemisphere

Speech Creativity

Analysis Colour perception

Sequencing Spatial awareness

Logic Creating an overview

Linear thinking Day-dreaming

Rational thinking Intuition

Numbers and word recognition Face and object recognition

A Mind Map is a good way to represent the relative importance of different topics – and to appraise them or remind yourself of them at a glance. The central themes are clearly defined and all extraneous information is eliminated. You can see the whole picture and the key details all at the same time.


A SAMPLE MIND MAP ON GLOBAL WARMING

This simplified Mind Map shows one possible approach. Classic Mind Mapping would have more pictures and would attempt to use single words rather than phrases wherever possible. Also, each branch would be in a different colour.





Exercise: Making Your Own Mind Map


Take a sheet of paper and some coloured pens or pencils. (Use ink for the lettering and coloured pencils for the graphics.) You might decide to start with a rough sketch so that you can adjust the proportions a little once you have everything mapped out initially on paper.


The point of this exercise is to create and memorize two Mind Maps on:


1 Some topic on which you wish to become better informed. You can choose any field – perhaps an aspect of sport or music, or some episode in history, or something more technical such as the way a car engine works. You might already know the key facts and want to build up a clearer picture. Do some background reading, making draft Mind Maps as you proceed: do not take any longhand notes, and restrict yourself to the key points, expressed in as few words as possible. Add organically to the Mind Map as you gain more knowledge by further reading. When you feel that you have read and understood enough, prepare your final Mind Map, in colour, with suitable imagery and graphics. Commit it to memory. After two or three days see if you can reproduce it from memory alone.


2 The key priorities in your life, in relation to such questions as home, money, relationships, work, leisure, skills, values, ambitions, travel, and so on. You can use this kind of Mind Map as a way to determine how you see yourself progressing in the future. Add simple pictures to help fix the things that matter most to you. If you wish, as with the first Mind Map, the sizing of these images can be used to reflect their relative importance.



So how would you go about Mind Mapping, say, a lecture? The speaker might follow an eccentric order of presentation – he or she might start with a minor point to grab your attention and build up slowly to the main point, or state it first, followed by a series of qualifications. As you construct your Mind Map you need to be flexible enough to accommodate such shifts of emphasis. You may not know what the key points are until the lecture is over.

Many people will choose to do a draft in pen or pencil before producing a finalized version in colour. By creating simple graphic images within the Mind Map (don’t worry, no artistic expertise is required), you help to make key points vivid and memorable. And by using different colours of ink or pencil, you can emphasize the different strands of subject matter to help you “read” the Mind Map more speedily or more effectively – which makes the device an excellent revision tool.