Author Kevin Horsley always assumed he had a bad memory. But after learning a few simple memory techniques, Horsley trained himself to remember the first 10,000 digits of pi, get 5th place in the World Memory Championships, and earn the title ‘International Grandmaster of Memory.’
There are two primary methods that Horsley and other ‘International Grandmasters of Memory’ use to remember vast amounts of information.
You can use these two methods to remember the name of every person you meet, and details of every presentation you deliver.
“Memory is not a thing that happens to you; you create your memories…The greatest secret of a powerful memory is to bring information to life with your endless imagination” – Kevin Horsley
Competitive memory champions can perform such feats of recollection as reciting the first 10,000 digits of pi. That might not seem useful for everyday life, but the competitors’ techniques prove applicable to any information: stock prices, people’s names, statistics, and more. Kevin Horsley, an International Grandmaster of Memory, shows how to remember vast amounts of information through simple techniques, such as turning abstract concepts into images and stories. In this quick, easy read, Horsley outlines memory techniques and provides motivation for readers with little confidence in their power of recall. Whether you’re in business, education, politics, science or the arts, you can benefit from Horsley’s advice.
- A good memory benefits every aspect of your life.
- To remember, learn to concentrate.
- A strong memory depends on creativity and connection.
- Use objects and places as memory aids.
- Link your images in a narrative.
- Create mental “pegs” for what you want to remember.
- If you struggle to remember names, the culprit might not be your memory.
- To remember numbers, make the abstract concrete.
- Regular reviews keep memories strong.
Use your imagination to create a rich sensory experience in your mind.
To remember the last name of the author, Horsley, visualize a horse. Then imagine touching it, smelling it, hearing it, and tasting it… Okay, tasting a horse is a bit gross, but it’s memorable!
Make the horse pink and make it the size of a house.
The goal is to be extreme, ridiculous, and funny. Horsley says, “The more illogical the image, the more it will stick…There is no scientific evidence to prove that learning should be serious.”
Lastly, energize your mental image by tapping into your inner Walt Disney and turn the image into a motion picture. See the horse running, jumping, or getting launched over a house with a cannon!
“Your mind is the greatest home entertainment center ever created.” – Mark Victor Hanson
Use the S.E.E. method to remember a new word by thinking of images that sound like sections of the word.
For example, if you’re giving a presentation on the brain and you need to recall the neurotransmitter Serotonin (the neurotransmitter which produces a feeling of happiness), you could see your see your friend Sara (sounds like the first part of “Sero-ton-in”), with a giant musical note on her head (reminds you of tone, the second part of “Ser-ton-in”), jumping through a field of daisies (reminds you of happiness).
When you have a long list of items you need to remember, like five stories for an upcoming presentation or ten ingredients of a recipe, place the items on your list in the memory of a familiar environment.
Our minds are great at remembering the details of familiar environments.
Close your eyes and imagine walking through your house. Can you visualize your front door? Your kitchen? Your TV room? Your stairs? And your bathroom?
You can leverage your memory of environments to memorize new information. If, for example, you want to remember the five main ingredients of a chicken soup recipe (onion, garlic, carrot, chicken, egg noodles), you can place those ingredients around your mental house:
- At the front door, you can see a giant onion with legs and arms doing jumping jacks.
- When you walk through your front door and into your kitchen, you can see the sink overflowing with garlic cloves.
- Then, as you walk into your TV room, you can see two giant carrots making out on your couch.
- As you walk up the stairs, you can see dozens of chickens flying at you and feathers flying everywhere.
- Finally, when you go into the upstairs bathroom, you can imagine undressing and have a bath in a tub full of warm egg noodles.
“Some people say, ‘I will run out of space.’ (But) if I gave you a truck full of objects to place in a shopping mall, would you be able to do that? Of course you would. If you look for it, you will find thousands and thousands of places just waiting to be used in your mind. There are no limits to this system, only limits in your own thinking.” – Kevin Horsley
A good memory benefits every aspect of your life.
Imagine being able to remember the name of everyone you meet – or to make business presentations without cumbersome notes by instantly remembering facts and statistics.
Improving your memory skills pays dividends: With instant access to more information, you make better decisions. You will discover useful connections among people, events and facts. And you will improve your learning skills, because learning builds on the foundation of your previous knowledge.
“When you improve your memory, you improve everything.”
Improving your memory requires learning new ways of thinking about information and practicing these techniques until they become second nature. People utilize these methods to pull off such feats as, for example, memorizing the complete Oxford English Dictionary. These techniques have the power to help you access whatever you need to remember in your daily life.
To remember, learn to concentrate.
To improve your memory, you need to focus and direct your attention. But like many people today, you may not have much opportunity to practice the art of concentration. Modern life is full of distractions – phone messages, emails, to-do lists – all vying for a fraction of your attention. You may feel your awareness flipping as if through channels on a television. You rarely stop to focus on any one option.
As a result, most people’s minds remain in an almost constant state of agitation. To concentrate, you need a calm mind, one that can bring its full attention to one thing at a time.
“We live in an activity illusion and think that busyness’ is equal to good business, but it’s often just procrastination in disguise.”
Fortunately, you can improve your concentration with practice. Sharpen your focus with the following steps:
- Examine your self-talk – Many people expend considerable energy chastising themselves for things they do wrong. This negative “inner voice” stirs conflict in the mind and negates the calm you need for concentration. Instead of upbraiding yourself for failing to notice where you parked your car, acknowledge situations in which you did pay attention.
- Don’t multitask – True multitasking is impossible: Your mind can only focus on one thing at a time. When you attempt to multitask, you rapidly shift your focus through a sequence of tasks, giving minimal attention to each. You can’t produce your best work this way. Multitasking undermines your productivity, creativity and decision-making. Learn to focus your attention on one activity at a time, and you will work more efficiently.
- Actively engage with information – Boost your concentration and increase your retention by keeping in mind why you are examining each bit of information, and what exactly you want to gain from it. You will remember information that interests you. Find ways to connect even the blandest material with your interests and goals.
A strong memory depends on creativity and connection.
To improve your memory, enlist your imagination. Trying to retain a list of cities or foreign vocabulary words through rote memorization – to jam them into your brain – proves inefficient because it involves only one sense (sound). To help information stick in your mind, connect it with images and stories, because that is what the human mind finds most engaging.
To remember an item, turn it into an image and embed that image in a brief story. For example, if you want to recall that the Italian word for chicken is pollo, turn pollo into an image: It sounds something like “polo,” so picture a polo match. To associate it with chicken, imagine a polo match in which the players use a chicken instead of a ball.
“People that learn quickly or have a so-called photographic memory apply creativity to everything they learn.”
To create “sticky” imagery, use the following principles, which you can remember with the mnemonic “SEE”:
- Senses – You use all your senses, and hence more areas of your brain, when you construct an image. Imagine how the image looks and how it might smell, what sounds it might make, how it feels to the touch, etc.
- Exaggeration – Absurd and funny images stick more readily in your mind. Your image doesn’t need to make logical sense. It needs to be memorable.
- Energize – Bring the image to life by including action, especially illogical or silly action. To remember that Canberra is the capital of Australia, for example, picture a kangaroo – symbolizing Australia – enjoying a “can” of “berries.”
“Which is easier to remember: a strawberry that is normal size, or one the size of a house?”
Images prove particularly useful for memorizing scientific terms and other abstract words. Break the word into parts and use similar-sounding words that conjure up images. For example, remember “hydrogen” by turning its parts into the more concrete words “hydrant” and “gin.” Then imagine a fire hydrant sipping a glass of gin.
Use objects and places as memory aids.
Turn your car, your body or your home into an imaginary repository for terms or concepts you want to remember. This method requires practice, but once you master it, it’s easy and effective. Embrace these approaches to creating repositories:
- Turn your car into a memory storehouse – This method works because you connect new information with an object that is already in your memory. For example, use your car to remember the seven principles from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Pick out seven features of your car, such as the front bumper, hood, windshield or rear tire. Create an image for each of the seven habits and place one image on each of the features you chose. For example, for Habit 1, “be proactive,” picture a “bee” who is a “pro” golfer, standing on the front bumper, about to take a shot. Choose a mental route around your car – front to back, or clockwise – so you encounter the objects in order. Use this method with buses or airplanes, or even your own body.
- Take a journey you’ll remember – Store information as you mentally make your way through a building that you know well, such as your home. For example, use your kitchen to store the first three of the 12 success principles in John C. Maxwell’s Today Matters. Pick out three objects in the kitchen, such as the dishwasher, refrigerator and stove. Store the first principle, “attitude,” in the dishwasher. Imagine someone with a poor attitude getting in the machine and emerging with a bright new outlook. Next, picture the principle “priorities” as a to-do list on your refrigerator. Store the principle of “health” on your stove: Use apples as a symbol of health, and imagine a buff person cooking applesauce on the stove.
“Review[ing] the list backward…makes the images even clearer for your memory.”
Use this method with any building or route you know well. This gives you an almost unlimited supply of memory storage space.
Link your images in a narrative.
To memorize an ordered list, come up with memorable images for each item, and link them in a story. The story provides a framework for recalling the order of your images. It provides an extra memory boost because using your imagination like this sparks your interest in the list.
“A whole syllabus or textbook can be condensed into a ridiculous story.”
Here’s an image story that helps you remember the first three US presidents: Imagine you are “washing” a “tin” (Washington), when it begins to grow an “Adam’s apple” (Adams), which a “chef” and “her son” (Jefferson) grab hold of. You can extend this ludicrous story to memorize all the presidents.
Create mental “pegs” for what you want to remember.
In a memory-peg system, associate the item you want to remember with something already in your long-term memory. This technique eases transferring the new item from your short-term to your long-term memory. In the 17th century, Henry Herdson devised a simple but potent version, “rhyming pegs.” To use his method, pick a word that rhymes with each of the single digits from zero to nine, such as one-bun, two-shoe, three-tree, and so on.
“You can use any list that is already in your long-term memory to create all kinds of new peg lists.”
To memorize author Tony Robbins’s “10 emotions of power,” for example, create an image for each item that connects it to your rhyming peg. First on Robbins’s list is “love and warmth.” Assign the rhyming peg “bun” to the number one, then create an image for love and warmth that links to bun. For example, you could imagine a warm bun baked in the shape of a heart – to symbolize love.
If you struggle to remember names, the culprit might not be your memory.
Many people complain they have a poor memory for names, but they are wrong. Their memories are fine – they simply lack a good strategy to recall them. Follow these steps:
- Concentrate – Listen carefully when a person says his or her name. If you aren’t sure you heard it right, ask him or her to repeat it. Try to avoid getting caught up in thoughts about yourself in social situations – worrying about the impression you make or what you should say next. Shift your focus to cultivate an interest in the person in front of you. When you take an interest in something, you have an easier time remembering it.
- Invent an image – Most people have much better memories for visual stimuli than for sounds. That’s why you more readily remember faces than names. Use the sounds of a name to create a memorable image, as you did when memorizing a list of terms.
- Make a connection – Mentally compare the new person to someone you know or to someone famous with the same name. Or link the name to a distinct feature of the person. For instance, if you meet someone named Janice who has notable blue eyes, turn the name Janice into “chain ice,” and imagine a chain of ice shooting from her eyes. Or, connect a person’s name with the place where you met. If you meet a woman named Rose at a buffet, create a mental image of a buffet table with a large rose on it.
- Use the name – Repetition will reinforce all the other strategies, so say the person’s name frequently in conversation. You might talk about his or her name – if the person has a foreign name, for example, ask what it means.
To remember numbers, make the abstract concrete.
A knack for remembering numbers is highly useful. Imagine the benefits of always having sports statistics, stock prices and dates at hand.
Memory champions memorize long strings of random numbers because they use strategies that imbue an abstract sequence with meaning. In the 17th century, Stanislaus Mink von Wennshein invented a system, still popular with memory competitors today, that turns numbers into letters you can use to construct words. This system takes practice to master, but is extremely powerful.
In this system, associate each of the digits zero through nine with letters.
- Zero equals the S or Z sounds. Remember this by visualizing the zero as a wheel that makes a “hissing” sound as it turns.
- One equals the T or D sounds. The numeral looks somewhat similar to a T.
- Two equals the N sound. Visualize the N as a sideways two.
- Three equals the M sound, because the M looks like a sideways three.
And so on.
In this system, the vowels and the letters W, H and Y have no numeric value. Use them as fillers in the words you create.
“There is no magic when it comes to memory improvement; there is only management.”
To remember, for example, the number 1,310: The letter equivalents for this number sequence are T, M, T and S. Turn TMTS into a word by adding the filler letters O, A and E. The result: TOMATOES. You remember words more easily than you remember a number. Strengthen this memory’s stickiness with a mental image linking 1,310 and TOMATOES.
Regular reviews keep memories strong.
When you memorize new information, repeat it 10 minutes later, forward and backward. Repeat the exercise in an hour, then a day later, and then at increasingly longer intervals. At each interval, ensure that your images remain distinct. Perform a practice recitation. When you remember information after a three-month interval, you will probably never forget it.
Professional speaker Kevin Horsley is a World Memory Championship medalist who has won the title of International Grandmaster of Memory.
“Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More, and be More Productive” is a thought-provoking and insightful book written by Kevin Horsley, a renowned memory expert. In this book, Horsley shares his expertise on how to enhance one’s memory, learn faster, and retain information more effectively. The author’s approach is unique and accessible, making it a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their cognitive abilities. In this review, we will delve into the key concepts, strengths, and weaknesses of the book, providing a comprehensive overview of Horsley’s work.
The book is divided into four parts: The Foundation, The Principles, The Strategies, and The Review. In the first part, the author explains the basics of how memory works and why most people struggle to remember information. He also introduces the concept of PIC, which stands for Purpose, Interest, and Curiosity. He argues that these three factors are essential for motivating and engaging the brain in the learning process.
In the second part, the author presents six principles that can help readers enhance their memory and learning abilities. These are: Concentration, Association, Imagination, Location, Action, and Review. He explains how each principle works and provides examples and exercises to practice them. He also emphasizes the importance of using all the senses and emotions to create vivid and memorable images.
In the third part, the author demonstrates how to apply the principles to various types of information, such as numbers, names, faces, words, languages, speeches, books, and exams. He offers specific strategies and tips for each category and shows how to use them effectively. He also shares some of his personal stories and experiences to illustrate his points.
In the fourth part, the author summarizes the main ideas and techniques from the previous chapters and provides a checklist for readers to review their progress. He also encourages readers to keep practicing and improving their memory skills and to use them for personal and professional growth.
- The Power of the Mind: Horsley emphasizes the importance of understanding the relationship between the mind and memory. He posits that the human brain has a remarkable capacity for learning and memory, but it must be trained and developed to reach its full potential.
- The Five Senses: Horsley introduces the concept of the “Five Senses” method, which involves using the senses to encode and retrieve information more effectively. This approach involves associating information with sensory experiences, such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures.
- The Link System: The author introduces the Link System, a technique for organizing and retrieving information by creating associations between different pieces of data. The Link System helps individuals to connect new information to existing knowledge, making it easier to learn and recall.
- The Feynman Technique: Horsley discusses the Feynman Technique, a method for learning and retaining information by explaining complex concepts in simple terms. This technique involves breaking down complex ideas into smaller, more manageable parts and explaining them in a way that is easy to understand.
- The Three-Step Learning Process: Horsley outlines a three-step process for learning and retaining information: observation, association, and repetition. This process involves observing new information, associating it with existing knowledge, and repeating the process to solidify the information in the long-term memory.
- Practical and Accessible: Horsley’s writing style is clear and concise, making the book accessible to readers of all levels of expertise. The author provides practical strategies and techniques that can be applied immediately, making the book a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their memory.
- Insightful: Horsley offers insights into the workings of the human brain and the underlying psychology of learning and memory. His explanations are clear and easy to understand, providing readers with a deeper understanding of the cognitive processes involved in learning and memory.
- Well-Organized: The book is well-organized, with each chapter building on the previous one to provide a comprehensive overview of the author’s techniques. The author also includes practical exercises and examples throughout the book to illustrate his points.
- Limited Focus: While the book provides a comprehensive overview of Horsley’s techniques, it focuses primarily on memory improvement. As a result, readers may find that the book does not provide as much information on other areas of cognitive improvement, such as problem-solving and critical thinking.
- Lack of Scientific Evidence: While Horsley provides some scientific explanations for the mechanisms of memory and learning, there is limited scientific evidence to support some of his claims. Readers may find that some of the techniques suggested in the book are not backed up by empirical evidence.
“Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More, and be More Productive” is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their memory and cognitive abilities. Horsley’s techniques are practical, accessible, and well-explained, making the book a valuable addition to any personal development library. While the book has some limitations, such as a lack of scientific evidence and a limited focus, Horsley’s insights into the workings of the human brain and the underlying psychology of learning and memory make it a worthwhile read.
I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. I think it is a useful and motivating book that offers valuable tips and tricks for anyone who wants to improve their memory and learning abilities. I think it is well-written, clear, and engaging. I think it could have been improved by providing more scientific evidence and research to support the methods. I also think it could have been more balanced by acknowledging some of the limitations or challenges of memory improvement, such as interference, forgetting, or distortion.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and I learned a lot from it. I think it is a must-read for anyone who wants to unlock their unlimited memory potential.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking to improve their memory and learning abilities, including students, professionals, and individuals looking to enhance their cognitive function. The book is also a valuable resource for mental performance coaches and trainers looking to improve the memory and learning abilities of their clients.