Names and Faces Archives | Anastasia Woolmer
Memorizing terminology for movement

Memorizing terminology for movement

Different learning objectives need different mnemonic strategies.

Which one to use depends on what you are learning and your own best learning method.

Regardless of if you are memorizing terminology for movement, foreign language vocabulary, or anything else, it can be useful to understand if you should use a memory palace as your learning technique.

Everyone is different in their preferences, and I have my reasons for preferring to use memory palaces for memorising terminology.

I’ve written before (here) and here about how memory palaces are fantastic for when the order of the information is important, or for long lists of information.

But what about a list of 20 Korean Taekwondo terminology words that do not need to be remembered in order?

Let’s look at the example of someone who already knows the moves to their Taekwondo exam but now just needs to connect the name to the move (If you need help remembering them move, see my blog here).

Assuming you know the moves well already you can just use them instead of a memory palace to link the name (like in my YouTube video Remember Terminology Instantly – see it here).

The memory palace ‘location’ is the move that you can already visualise and know well.

The image is made to represent what terminology is given to this move. Because you will link them together (in a story) it will help your brain learn and link them together (just like a memory palace). 

I tend to give this a quick go when I hear a new piece of terminology in class and then think about it harder later. Making the image and linking it as you hear it is a hard skill to attain but you will improve at doing it on the fly and it helps later on (even if you couldn’t fully form the image).

This allows you to learn the names of movements just one at a time, AND put a whole list of terminology in a memory palace as well if you like.

This is usually my preferred option for grouped and list-like learning.

This is how it works when I learn terminology from a list:

  1. I first decide on a memory palace where I will place this group of terminology. Let’s say for my recent Taekwondo grading.
  2. I work through the list starting at the top. In the first location in my mind I visualize the first move and link it to the correct terminology (as we have discussed). 
  3. I move to the next item on the list and the next location and repeat until I have completed the list.

Why do it like this rather than separately?

  1. It gives me an extra hook (or association) in my brain and I find it tends to move the information to the long term faster.
  2. It means whenever I want to go over the list it is fully in my brain.

I won’t miss any out. Don’t underestimate this. When I am bored in a car, on a train, or trying to get to sleep I have a library of things I am learning that I can run through (again moving the learning to long term memory faster).

I most definitely ran through my terminology palace while driving to my Taekwondo exam.

When I do my next exam, I need to know a further list of Korean plus the one from my previous exam. Given it is in a neat brain file I can go back over my ‘old lists’ whenever I like to keep them fresh.

Will you run out of palaces?

Some students initially worry they will run out of memory palaces.

Don’t stress about this either. If you think of all the palaces you know it is endless. Your memory palaces might currently include childhood homes, friends’ houses, the school you went to, your favourite takeaway restaurant or the route you walk to the train.

Just be clear when using this memory palace – is it a temporary (or training) palace, or one for permanent information? You’ll be letting your brain know whether it is on the way to committing this information to long term memory or just holding it for the short term.

Enjoy and annyeong!


Can I re-use a memory palace?

Can I re-use a memory palace?

Memory palaces are fantastic for toolkits for your brain, but for those who are new to them, sometimes they can be a little confusing.

I’m often asked: ‘How do you re-use memory palaces over and not getting confused with old information?’ and ‘How can I stop my memory palace filling up?’

Great questions!

First, its important to understand that there are two types of memory palace:
  1. temporary information (like a shopping list, a FedEx delivery, memory training or for a meeting this Friday)
  2. permanent information (like learning the names of all the Japanese vegetables).

You’ll find that memory athletes and those who use mnemonics a lot, have both. Mine range from upcoming meetings, to Pi, to the aforementioned Japanese vegetables!

If you’re unsure if memory palaces actually work – click here to read more:

Temporary memory palaces

  • Temporary memory palaces can be used once a day and reused over and over on subsequent days.
  • Each new day you just ‘replace’ the new images over the old ones.
  • New students sometimes worry that this won’t work, but once you get going it is fine.
  • If you still find you can ‘see’ yesterday’s information, then you can alternate each day with a different temporary memory palace.

Long term memory palaces

  • For long term learning, you choose a palace where only that information will live (at least until it is in ‘long term’ memory).
  • This is because for long term learning you will want to review the information periodically so that it moves from your short term memory into your long term memory.
  • The memory palace acts as a holding place to help you learn faster in short term memory.

I learn all the Japanese vegetables by mentally placing the appropriate images at my local sushi train. Occasionally, I go back through it to check I still know them all and fix any problem images. It is this review process that  moves this learning into ‘long term memory’. Once this happens I no longer need to see the images.

This does not preclude using other reviewing methods (like Anki) to go over individual vegetable names as well.

Keeping these two types of palaces separate should ensure that your palaces don’t ‘fill up’ or that you get confused.

Need to know more about how to use memory techniques to learn? Check out my course Master Your Memory.

What you want to remember, faster – The survey results are in!

What you want to remember, faster – The survey results are in!

The survey results have been collated for the upcoming workshop in October.

I asked what you would most like to remember faster – with 0 meaning no interest and 10 as yes please.

The results surprised me.

‘How to remember for work’ is the clear winner for the October workshop with a whopping 93.3% of respondents ranking this choice highly.

So I am excited to plan this workshop for you –“How to remember faster for work”.

Click here for more information or to secure your spot.

But something else really surprised me.

Respondents were asked if there was anything else they wanted to remember –  the answers were quite varied and covered many topics, as I expected.

But I was surprised to see that one group of answers could be grouped together. Many respondents wanted to know how memory techniques can be used to remember some kind of movement.

Remember, that movement does not need only be limited to obvious movement, like exercises, dance and martial arts. It can also be applied to learning an instrument, sign language, origami or any other skill that requires some element of physical movement and memory – no matter how small the movement the technique is similar.

I have discussed this in my blog post Movement and memory. I personally use mnemonic techniques all the time to learn movement because it is highly effective.

After seeing these results and exploring different mnemonic courses online, I can see that the area of remembering movement is thin on the ground.  What a missing link! The skills that memory athletes use can be readily adapted to learn movement faster.

Having been a professional dancer and a memory champion, it is natural for me to combine memory and movement. It speeds up the learning process and also adds a deeper understanding of the movement. So I am now developing a mini course of how to remember movement. You would learn exactly how I combine my two areas of expertise, to help you to remember any type of new physical information faster.  I will keep you posted 😊.

Meanwhile, keep training – mentally and physically – explore more of my blogs below, or click here to deep dive into one of my courses.


For those of you interested in remembering names and faces, I cover this in my blog post here: Remembering names and faces.

A memory expert’s guide – how to remember names and faces

A memory expert’s guide – how to remember names and faces

A guide to the basics.

Do the names of people you meet blur together?

Remembering names is a powerful skill. In fact the most common memory complaint I hear is “I’m so bad at remembering names”. Before training in these memory techniques I used to be one of those people.

But now when I run a workshop or take a class of new dance students I get each person to introduce themselves and store their name readily in my head. This is a skill that can be taught to anyone. You don’t have to be the Australian memory champion to have a champion memory for faces.

I remember the first time I tried my quietly practiced skills on a large group of students. After introductions with 26 students, I went around the room again and for all of them I had the correct name. They broke into spontaneous applause – in that moment I knew I was on to something good.

I want to share this with everyone. Here is a simple guide to the basics of the lifelong mind skill of remembering names and faces.

So, why would you make the effort to train in memory techniques for names and faces?

Because the response is amazing when you remember someone’s name.

In a group setting you can see immediately that a person feels they matter. You’ve noticed them and then they engage. This alone justifies making the effort to get this skill, regardless of what you do in life.

It is human nature to like someone more who has made the effort to remember who you are.

Imagine leaving a dinner party and being able to say to each person with ease “It was lovely to meet you (insert name here)…”

Being able to remember names is empowering. Imagine how useful this in the sales game, or consulting, or any time you meet new people that you are trying to influence.

But I’ve got a bad memory…

The basic steps are, well, basic – so there is no excuse.

Some very simple mnemonic techniques that memory athletes use will help you dramatically.

Step one – concentrate hard on listening to the person’s name as they say it.

This sounds simple but in practice concentrating is challenging.

It is a strong temptation when meeting a person to be rehearsing how you are going to introduce yourself. Changing focus from yourself and your own name to instead focus on the other person is simple and effective. Believe me you won’t forget your own name when it’s your turn. After consciously doing this for a couple of weeks it becomes second nature.

And then repeat their name after they say it. Them: “Hi , I’m Dawn” You: “Hi Dawn, nice to meet you, I’m …(insert name here)”.

Step two – identify a feature on this person’s face that is unique and obvious to you.

This is something you do during the introduction.

Dawn may have lovely hazel eyes. Maybe your new buddy has large earlobes, long eyelashes or freckles. It could be high cheekbones, flared nostrils or a flat forehead. Porous skin, bushy eyebrows, the choice is yours. Whatever strikes you first about their head and face. You’ll be surprised how quickly you will begin to notice easily identifiable differences between people.

This step is important and requires practice to get the hang of quickly identifying an individual’s unique features while the introduction is taking place.

If you are aiming to remember this person’s name for longer than just the dinner party/meeting/etc, be careful to choose a feature that does not change. Hair is usually no good, nor is a hat or earrings. Shirt colour is right out.

Step three – find an image for this name, then link it to the feature.

So you know the person’s name, Dawn. And you see she has lovely hazel eyes.

Now picture in your mind that inside those hazel eyes you see a dramatic dawn sun rising. Exaggerate the image, see the rays shine out over the freckles. Easy.

You will be pleasantly surprised next time you meet Dawn that the name will come to you. If it perhaps doesn’t, you need to look at her face and see the feature you most notice. Hazel eyes. The sun image will likely pop into your head and you will have the name.

Images should be what you already know or relate to. The more you practice creating an image for names the more naturally it comes to you, until you hardly need to think about it for most people you meet.

OK, I know that you are thinking I chose Dawn because it is a super easy name for an image. True, guilty as charged. So, what if it isn’t such a free kick? Other techniques to the rescue.

An easy image can often be made if their name is the same as a person you already know. Say you know a florist named Sarah, and now meet another Sarah. So choose an obvious image like a flower. It is critical to connect the image to the facial feature you chose, so you could imagine a bright yellow carnation growing out of new Sarah’s long nose. It’s lucky that these pictures you create are private!

Or a name may remind you of a type of person. Maybe the name Darren makes you think of an ocker Aussie, so for a new Darren you obviously picture a beer stubby holder. Now simply attach the stubby holder to the new Darren’s feature of choice, and viola!, a stubby holder is balanced on his shiny bald head. A beer inside it is entirely optional (depends on how much you like him).

Another technique is to focus on the name sound or what it straight away makes you think of. For example if I meet a Vince, I may well choose an image that simply sounds the same, mince (ie mince meat) pops into mind. Vince images get messy. Use the first thing that occurs to you – this will also be the first thing you recall on your next meeting. Trust your instinct.

Sometimes you need to get more creative.

Before I knew any Biancas I used to use an anchor as the image (B anchor, get it?), but was still forgetting this name. As soon as I put a buzzing bee (to remind me of the B) around the anchor it was fixed. These days I know lots of Bianca’s and a plain ol’ anchor will now suffice.

With practice you will build up a mental list of images ready on hand that remind you of the most common names. With less common names you often can use a common name and adapt it. Like Antonio could be an ant tap dancing atop whatever your normal image for Tony is. And of course that combined image is balanced on / stuck into / coming out of Antonio’s feature of choice.

A key to getting this to work is to make it interesting. Instead of just mincemeat balanced on Vince’s large nose you are squashing it in and smearing it around. You should imagine what it would feel like, look like, and smell like. How would he react to it? (Not too well I suspect.) Have some mince dropping off onto that clean carpet. The more senses you can add to the image and the link to the face the better. I warned you it would get messy.

You also need to practice looking normal and carrying on a conversation while making up these mental pictures. Good luck with that at first.

How can I quickly improve my memory for names and faces?

Practice everywhere. Obviously practice when you meet someone but also anywhere else.

It’s amazing how many names we see a day but most of us have never dreamed of trying to learn them all. So our name memory skills don’t improve.

When you read or see the news or you are surfing Facebook or LinkedIn, every name and face you see is a chance to practice. Just have a quick crack at it on the spot. It’s a couple of seconds to think ‘How would I remember this?’.

But, I hear you ask, I meet people on the phone in my job – how can I remember their name when I can’t see them? We will cover that next time… (but it’s simple).

To be able to remember the names of people is a powerful skill. You don’t need to become a mental athlete or memory expert or dedicate endless hours to study. You just need to learn these couple of memory techniques and apply them as you meet new people.

You can become that person everyone talks about:

“Isn’t (insert your name here) amazing at remembering names” they will say….if they remember your name.

Where to practice memory techniques.

And … there’s an app for that. I use these apps while on the train or when I have 10 minutes free.

Minecraft is fun to fill in the moment, but mind craft lasts a lifetime.