How to remember people’s names

I had told myself I’m terrible at remembering names; that mindset was the first thing to change.

John Iovine
3 min readJul 25, 2022


You met someone a few minutes ago but have already forgotten their name. Sound Familiar. Forgetfulness doesn’t have to increase as you get older. Here are a few strategies to help you remember names better.


If you think that you are terrible at remembering names, clinical studies show you are probably correct. I used to tell people that I was terrible at remembering names. I felt if I told them this straight out, they’d be more forgiving when I eventually asked their name again. The truth is, aside from repeating their name in my head a few times, I did very little to remember their name.

People correctly assume that you are likely to remember things that are important to you. So forgetting someone’s name is a tell that they are not.

My mindset was the first thing that I needed to change. I learned there are no good or bad memories, only trained and untrained memory.


If you are starting a new job, entering a new educational class, or attending a seminar, or party, you know in advance that there will be new people to remember. Sleep the night before, and make sure you’re well rested. Sleep deprivation impairs your memory. Limit drinking at a party because alcohol may impair your ability to remember new information.

Do repeat the person’s name. For example, if you meet a man named John, use his name immediately. “Hi, John, are you with anyone?” But do not continually repeat his name in every conversational sentence. That kind of repetition is an obvious memory tool. But stepped repetition has been shown to work. Ten seconds after you meet someone, ask yourself, “What is his name again, John”. Then do the same at 30 seconds, one minute, two minutes and five minutes.

Another technique is to associate the name with an image. Going back to John, imagine a toilet on top of this person’s head. Or, if you like music, imagine John Lennon singing “Imagine” on his white piano in his ear. The more outrageous the image you conjure, the easier it will be to recall. The problem with this is that if you…



John Iovine

Science writer, thinker, self-experimenter, focusing on personal development and health —