You know the drill. You're in front of your whole team, ready to present, and you can't remember your points. Not. One. Word. Or maybe you just received a warm introduction to someone at a seminar and their name has totally gone out the window. One simple technique recommended by USA Memory Champion Rob White could make these kinds of scenarios, and others, a rarity.

The technique

White's technique is pretty no-fuss and based on the mnemonic link system (chain method). It has just 3 steps:

  1. Find something you want to remember.
  2. Visualize what you need to remember in an absurd, crazy, or outrageous way (e.g., a pig dancing in high heels if you need bacon).
  3. Connect your visualizations to an item or sequence that's already familiar to you. For example, if you use body parts to help you, you might visualize the pig dancing in high heels on your head, onions playing poker on your shoulders, and potatoes beating on your chest.

Why it works

As White explains, generally speaking, compared to other types of information, images are relatively concrete, not abstract. They stick in your mind easier as a result. Converting facts to images also forces you to focus and concentrate, actively using the material you want to keep for later. Additionally, sequences like body parts are something you've seen and used a million times and, therefore, are really easy for your brain to grab from your long-term memory. When you use this visual association trick, you're linking a new, concrete image with information that's no sweat for your brain to pull up.

As for why you should use something completely wild for your image? That has to do with the von Restorff or "isolation" effect, which says that, when you've got a bunch of stimuli, you're more likely to remember a stimulus that's not like the others. Put another way, novelty and memory are best buddies.

Whether you want to memorize your grocery list or are working on a presentation that could be worth millions, visual association works. The only question is where you'll apply it next.