How to Remember Names and Faces - Test Your Memory Here : Smart Memory Power

How to Remember Names and Faces

Whether you’re in a social situation or a memory competition (yes, they really exist), you need to know how to remember names and faces. So it’s fortunate that you’re reading this, because that’s exactly what I’m going to show you!

Better still, I’m going to show you 16 faces, complete with the name of each person and then get you to see how many of the people you can remember.

However, I’m not going to just test you without first giving you some tips on how to do it.

How to Remember Names and Faces

Remembering Names

It’s important to use the following tips to help you remember someone’s name:

  • Pay attention to the name when someone’s telling you.
  • Give their name a meaning other than just being their name.
  • Associate the name with something else about them or something that their name resembles.

These are brilliant starting points, but here are some more advanced tips for you to help you recall names more easily:

For Social Occasions

  • If you’re in a social situation, dig a little deeper into the who the person is. Find out what they do and see if you can relate that to their name.
  • Also, for social situations, ask the person an open ended question or two… By this I mean a question that makes them explain something about themselves instead of a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. This will give you more to latch onto.
  • Observe their behaviour and characteristics. Are they shy and retiring? Or are they the one in the centre of it all? Do they engage in deep conversations, or is it more general chat about what was on TV last night? Are they a particular fan or admirer of something?

For Memory Competitions

  • The faces in competition are usually varied, as are the expressions. Use the varied expressions to your advantage and imagine meeting these people in real life. Imagine the way they are, or make up the reason they look the way they do. This association will give you a much stronger reason to remember them.
  • As with all associations, if you get an idea that jumps straight into your mind when you see a person for the first time, use it! Whatever caught your eye is the thing your brain was naturally drawn to. By using that, you’re able

For more tips and tools, check out my related post on How to Remember Names.

How to Remember Faces

Below are 16 very different faces. As you look at them, start to recognise different features about them.

In particular, find one or two things about each face that stand out. Perhaps they have larger ears or a small nose. Whatever it is, make it more significant in your mind.

One idea that I’ve touched on in the past is to see the person as a caricature. Think of yourself as an artist and imagine what you would minimize and what you would accentuate about their face.

This will make their face more striking and visual, which will help you remember them.

Ready? Here goes…

how to remember names and faces

Some of the faces are more striking than others. Also, they’ve all been asked to smile in their photo so you can’t really gauge their real personalities, character traits or manner of speech.

Instead, you have to look for more specific things about the way they look.

Some of the people look quite similar. This could throw you, so you need to pick out the one or two things that make each person unique…

For example, there are two bald men, but they actually look very different. In particular, the paler of the two men has a gap between his front teeth. That’s what distinguishes him.

In the case of memory competitions, you can use what someone is wearing in the photos as a reminder of who they are. In real life, this obviously won’t work (unless everyone you meet always wears the same clothes!).

Matching Names to Faces

We’re nearly at the test of your memory…

Just before we get there, let’s now look at the same people, but this time with names attached to each person. This is the real work on how to remember names and faces.

I’ve mixed up the order so you don’t just try and remember who was next to whom:

how to remember names and faces

The question now is: How do you make associations between the faces and the names?

Here are a few examples of things that make it easier for me to remember the names and faces:

  • Look at the girl in the bottom right corner, with the round face, pale skin, glasses and red hair. I’d imagine that with a name like Patricks, combined with the complexion and red hair, she’s Irish. Also, St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, so there’s an extra clue there when it comes to just looking at her face to recall the name… Looks Irish → Ireland’s patron saint is Patrick → Patricks
  • Nick Rushton has a kind of quiff haircut, as if he’s been rushing around. I can picture him as being in a rush (Rushton) and arriving in the nick of time (thus giving me his first name).
  • Also, Ken’s last name makes me laugh because it has ‘A kat’ in it, which sounds like ‘a cat’. He smiles like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. I can look at the smile, think of the character from Alice in Wonderland and get ‘Akat’. I could also think of Japanese food, as he has the word ‘katsu’ in his name which is a Japanese dish.
  • Carla Silva has silvery grey hair, so her last name should be easy to remember!

Another tip: Ask yourself, ‘Do any of these people look like people I know with the same or similar names?’

WARNING: Be careful what you remember about a person. Men can grow or shave off facial hair, so don’t just remember someone as ‘that guy with the beard’. Equally, women are more likely to change the style and colour of their hair, so remembering someone as ‘the redhead’ is far too vague.

The Memory Exercise

Get a timer and set it to time or count down 10 minutes.

You now have 5 minutes to look at the names and faces and remember as many as you can, using the tips I’ve given you.

Once the 10 minutes are over, scroll up the page so that you can’t see any of the names. Instead, look at the 16 photos that don’t have the names on them.

You now have 10 minutes to recall as many of the names and faces as possible without scrolling down to check.

You score 1 point for each name and face you recognise, up to a maximum of 16 points.

Be honest with yourself…

How did you do?

0-4 Novice – You need to go back and review the techniques
5-8 Beginner – Needs practice to get you to the next level
9-12 Improver – Very good (especially on your first attempt)
13-16 Memory Ninja! (Well, not quite, but you’re among the best)

I hope you enjoyed this particular memory exercise on how to remember names and faces. More importantly, I hope you actually did it so you can see how good your memory is and how you can improve it.

Leave us a comment in the comments section below and let me know how you did in the exercise on How to remember names and faces? Oh, and make sure you share this post on Facebook and Twitter.

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Category: Memory Exercises

About the Author ()

I'm James Gladwell, chief contributor and editor of I'm fascinated by the human mind and I set this site up in order to help people increase their memory power, while I learned how to improve mine. Feel free to leave a comment on the site and let me know how you think I can make the site better.

Comments (3)

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  1. Astro Gremlin says:

    Cool article. These look like nice people, too. I have great difficulty remembering names.

  2. Apollo says:

    Nice post, I think plenty of people struggle to remember names. I know I have found myself in that position.

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