About the Wiser Next Week Series: These entries will involve posting my book, Wiser Next Week, chapter by chapter, freely available to the public. Additionally, I’ll be recounting a story about something I’ve learned based on the chapter’s topic since the months that have past when the book was published in December 2018.
Why Keep Things In Your Head?
In this day and age of digital information, it is a very logical to argue that there is no need for remembering a lot of information. A lot, not all. There are many instances where having information in your head is needed during times when flipping on a smartphone is not an option:
- Driving a car
- A surgeon performing an operation
- Giving a speech
There are times in our live where having a cheat sheet (a smartphone) is not an option.
For me, I’ve focused my efforts on improving memory effort in giving better speeches. There have been so many instances where I was at a loss for words mid speech in college. I create Youtube videos so that I can work on speaking, something I’m not naturally gifted in but is necessary.
With so many college powerpoint presentations I had done in college, I was used to having talking points in front of me when speaking on any topic. So trying to talk without a note card was difficult. Therefore when I started making videos in November 2019 I had a little cheatsheet directly on my phone. In many of the older videos, I can see myself pausing and staring at the screen reading the next prompt up until around April of 2020.
Technology Can’t Replace Everything
That is when I decided to ditch cheat sheets. People that do Ted Talks for example hardly ever have any prompts assisting them, and if I wanted to communicate my message at that high level, I needed to begin the process of doing the same.
It was hard, especially when at the time I ditched the training wheels I was in San Francisco (dubbed by Mark Twain as where he spent his coldest summer) while I was still well adapted to the heat/humidity of SE Asia.
It was cold and windy when I was taking this next leap in improving my speaking ability and I had to pee. I remember it took me 10 takes to get this 4 minute video in a fairly succinct manner.
Put Images In Your Bullet Points
But then, I used another technique. Instead of trying to remember the powerpoint style talking points in my head, I painted images representative of most of the points I wanted to make as a picture is worth a thousand words.
Our minds remember images better then words as words are a human construct while images are a more primal way all life forms (that can see) interact with the world around us. I will let Kevin Horsley, author of Unlimited Memory explain the technique (read the top bullet points first):
- Imagine you’re washing a tin.
- Suddenly it develops a huge Adam’s apple.
- A chef and her son rip it out to make medicine.
- They give it to Marilyn Monroe who also grows an Adams apple.
- Michael Jackson sees it and runs away in fear.
- He jumps into a van with beer driven by a sun, a very hairy sun.
- The sun is a bad driver and hits a tiler tiling a polka dot wall.
- A tailor stops by to measure the dead body for a coffin fitting.
These points make no sense until you put it into context:
- Washington (washing a tin)
- Adams (Adam’s apple)
- Jefferson (chef and her son)
- Madison (medicine)
- Monroe (Marilyn Monroe)
- Adams (Adam’s apple)
- Jackson (Michael Jackson)
- Van Buren (van with beer)
- Harrison (hairy sun)
- Tyler (tiler)
- Polk (Polka dot)
- Taylor (tailor)
And that is the first 12 presidents of the United States.
So now before I press record on a video, I have preorganized thoughts into a series of pictures. The extra effort before hand has allowed me to speak much more efficiently. And in turn, creates a more vivid recall of past memories.
Here is the “On Remembering and Knowing“ chapter of Wiser Next Week. Take it and implement it into your own life.