Coaching content ideas

Five factors that make you more memorable


I came across a stranger with a dog a few months ago. As we walked toward each other on my empty street, I grinned.

“Cute dog,” I said as we grew closer.

“Thanks,” she said. “It’s not mine, though. I’m dogsitting for a friend. Hey, do you know any good places to walk around here? I’m kind of bored just taking the dog up and down the street.”

I pointed out a hard-to-spot trailhead. She thanked me and said she’d try it. Before she left, she told me her name.

“I’m Pat,” she said. “Pat Race. You know how there’s only one race, the human race? Well, that’s true, except for me. There’s the human race, and then there’s me. Pat Race.”

I never saw Pat again. But I can’t forget her name.

You often hear people exclaim, “I’m bad at remembering names!”

They’re not, though. And you’re not, either. Consider this:

You are not bad at remembering names. People are bad being memorable.

Now let’s consider Pat Race. I met her for 2 minutes, tops. And I never saw her again.

So why can’t I forget her name? Let’s break down 5 of the factors that made Pat exceptional at making me remember her name.

1. The solitude and simplicity. I didn’t meet Pat in a room filled with other people. She didn’t have to compete for my attention. Pat had a near monopoly on any new information entering my brain.

2. The stranger and the surprise. I didn’t expect a stranger to say anything beyond “thanks” to my “cute dog” comment. But she initiated an unexpected conversation that stopped me in my tracks.

3. Emotional bonding. Pat didn’t know for sure if I could answer a few quick questions, but she guessed from my smile and purposeful stride that I might be friendly and helpful. She picked up on unspoken cues and took a small risk.

4. The mnemonic device. Pat used the “human race” mnemonic device to make me associate new information with an old saying. By doing that, she made an abstract concept — her name — more concrete to me.

5. The quick repetition. Pat told me her full name twice. She also used parts of her name — pat and race — 4 times. And she did all that in less than 10 seconds! Clearly, she had used this smooth, well-rehearsed patter before.

No ad campaign. No name tag. No business card. No real reason for me to remember Pat’s name. And yet, I can’t forget it.

Am I just that stupendous at remembering names? No. Of course not.

But Pat? She’s downright exceptional at being memorable.

You are not bad at remembering names. People are bad being memorable.

If you want to be more memorable, why not riff on a few of Pat’s techniques? And if you forget someone’s name; don’t feel too bad. It’s not your fault.

It’s clear. That person is no Pat Race.


Laura Bergells writes and teaches. You can book me for live workshops, or take my classes online in the content library.