One of the things people comment to me about a lot is how impressed they are that I remember people’s names. They ask me, “how do you do that?” Then they say, “I’m terrible with names!” When people admit to me that they are terrible with names they say it in a tone of voice almost like a badge of honour, something that they are proud of. It’s like, “well this is me, take it or leave it”. When it comes to persuasion, getting your way, this is NOT OK!
Most people love it when you remember their name. Remembering someone’s name creates an instant connection. Remembering someone’s name says, I care enough about you to remember what to call you.
So, don’t forget to care! Before your meeting or presentation be sure to chat with people in your audience. Meet as many people as possible and be tough on yourself and actually remember their names. Treat it like a competition with yourself, ‘How many names can I remember today?’ I use repetition and repeat people’s names back to them, then I call them by their name a few times straight away in the conversation or introduce them to someone else.
Sometimes people don’t look like their name, so that’s a bit trickier. In this instance I’d use an association of some kind. I say to myself, “looks like Margaret but her name is Sharon”, then I use an association, “Sharon Strezlecki from Kath and Kim”.
Another great way to remember is to rhyme it with something. I’ll always remember one of my bosses when I worked at Lend Lease saying to me, “Gurmit, cousin of Kermit”. I will know that man’s name is Gurmit forever! See how effective a rhyme can be, I’m Michelle it rhymes with smell. Seriously, doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you use the person’s name! Sometimes people have the same name as someone else you know. Sometimes they are wearing something that makes then stand out, for example, Geoff in the flower shirt.
If it’s a business meeting, shake their hand on arrival and repeat their name as they say it to you. Then place their business cards in front of you (on the table) in the order people are sitting so you can be sure to call people by their names as often as possible (without being weird!).
If it’s a huge audience and you can’t meet them beforehand, be sure to facilitate activity and get your audience involved. When someone either participates, asks a question, or even answers a question that you’ve posed to the audience, be sure to ask the person their name and then thank them for their contribution by name for example, “Yes, that’s correct. What’s your name? (pause and let them tell you, then repeat their name, let’s say it’s Calvin). You say, “Calvin. Thank you, Calvin, etc….”
Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best-selling internationally published author (Wiley), and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media. www.michellebowden.com.au