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Atlanta Magician – Mentalist – Speaker Joe M. Turner | News and Comments from the Chief Impossibility Officer

Posts Tagged ‘association’

How To Remember Names – The Memory Mojo! Way

Posted by Joe M. Turner | on March 11, 2011

Hello My Name Is nametag

Who needs nametags? You can improve your name memory with a few easy techniques!

At my performances and speaking engagements, one of the things people find most impressive is my apparently incredible memory for names. By the end of many of my presentations I can name just about everyone in the room. In one of my card tricks I have nearly two dozen people select cards from the deck, then I find all the cards and call each of the people by name. This feat frequently garners as much applause as the card trick itself.

My Memory Mojo! presentation teaches about a range of mnemonic memory techniques which can be applied to name recall. However, my personal approach for remembering names differs somewhat from the standard mnemonic approach. My technique combines some of the memory tricks you may have heard before, plus a personal twist that helps me lock most names into place.

The Memory Mojo! name memory system has three steps: Question, Repetition, and Visualization.


I ask questions about people’s names. As my name is “Joe,” most names are more complex than mine and many lend themselves to some comment. I almost always ask about the spelling of the name; is it Michele or Michelle, Sean or Shawn? If I sense a derivation from another language, I’ll ask about it. I try to make a person’s name my first topic of conversation with him or her.

The point of asking questions is to force yourself to pay attention in the first place. Most memory courses emphasize the importance of training oneself to attend to incoming information; this concept is called increasing primary awareness or initial awareness. Even without learning or using any of the other steps and techniques in a memory course, raising the initial awareness of information automatically improves a person’s recall. In short, the attempt automatically brings success.

To increase the degree of success, I move to the second step.


This is the one that most people have already heard, often many times. Most sales people or other people who have asked me about names have heard advice such as “use the person’s name immediately,” or “make sure to call them by name three times.” They’ve used this technique with varying results.

There’s nothing wrong with the advice to repeat a name to yourself several times. Repetition is a key to learning new material, but taken by itself it’s not what I’d consider the most efficient path to retention. Learning anything by rote repetition generally takes longer than a structured repetition of something that has already been conceptually grasped. That’s why we question first, commenting on the spelling or derivation, and generally develop an understanding of the name and person, then repeat the name to yourself.

After asking questions about the name, repeat the name in your head, then give yourself ten or fifteen seconds before using the person’s name in a statement back to them. Don’t keep a checklist of using it three or five times in the conversation; just use it at points where it can naturally fit the conversational flow.

It’s the third step, though, where you really get the name fixed firmly in your mind.


My Memory Mojo! course, like nearly all memory training courses, uses creative visualization and association as the basis of the techniques. The use of the imagination to create mental pictures to associate new information to old information is the fundamental building block of memory training.

The classical mnemonic approach is to create a vibrant and exaggerated picture with the name and associate that with some outstanding feature of the person’s face, body, or perhaps clothing. For example, the name “Frank” might call to mind a hot dog or the Frankenstein monster, which could then be associated to something noticeable about the man’s face. Other images might be based on people you already know with the same name – relatives, friends, or colleagues. This is the most commonly taught technique and it can be extremely useful.

Fountain Pen and Paper

My secret: Visualize writing the name with a fountain pen on good paper. (Image by Linda Cronin)

Another visualization technique, though, is this personal approach which I developed a few years ago. This is my own approach and it has significantly improved my name memory. When I hear the name, I visualize myself writing the name, in longhand, with a fountain pen on good paper.

I make this visualization as detailed as possible, almost feeling the ink flow from the pen as it scratches across the paper. I can feel the texture of the writing surface and even pick up the faint smell of the ink on the paper. In my mind, I can feel the weight of the pen in my hand and hear the scraping of the nib as I form the letters.

My goal is to create a rich, detailed, multi-sensory experience of the name, albeit in my mind. I picture the swoop of the letters and try to see, hear, feel, and smell what is happening as I write the name. You might visualize something different – a chalkboard, a crayon, or a Sharpie – but the point is to engage multiple senses as you think of the name. This one technique has helped me lock in names with a high success rate.

Some closing advice…

Finally, give yourself permission to forget a name. Your self-talk has a lot to do with your capabilities, and most people have unfortunately convinced themselves that they “can remember faces, but have a bad memory for names.” They tell themselves they won’t remember, and they agonize over forgetting.

Take the pressure off yourself. The goal is not a perfect name memory, but an improved name memory. You will help yourself succeed by learning to be comfortable in asking people to repeat their names when you forget.

By dialing down the pressure and using the approaches described above, I have been successful in improving my name memory. It has helped my performances, my business interactions, and in my own personal life. I hope you find success using these techniques, too. Let me hear your success stories!

(Fountain pen/paper image by Linda Cronin.)

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Fourth quarter already?

Posted by Joe M. Turner | on October 29, 2009

I got back from performing trade show magic in Cleveland and looked at the calendar – the fourth quarter of 2009 kind of snuck up on me. I just finished jobs for NCR (now based near Atlanta) and Subnet Solutions (based in Calgary, Alberta), and other engagements are stacking up in December.

The schedule from now until New Year’s Eve is filling fast, but there are a couple of spots left. If your organization is planning a year-end event where I might be a corporate entertainment resource… call immediately (404 644 6791) to check your date. If I’m already booked, remember that my company also functions as an agency for other talented performers and speakers in various regions of the country. Let’s talk about what we can do for you and your event. (Here’s a fun option: Melody Knighton as Lucy or Dolly!)

Are you following me on the various social networking sites? If not, please do:
Connect: Atlanta Magician Joe M. Turner on Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter

I had a day off yesterday – a welcome breather in a week filled with 9 bookings! I took the opportunity to see two other performers “do their thing.” India-based mentalist Pradip Almadi spoke at a conference where I also performed. He’s in the country for a convention next week and happened to have an engagement in Atlanta. I also went over to Kennesaw State University last night to see Brian Brushwood, the ever-popular, freaky-fun magician to the college market.

Some upcoming performances:

TTU Judgment Day October 29Judgment Day, Tennessee Temple University, Chattanooga, TN. I’m part of a multi-day festival that is billed as a “Halloween alternative with an inspiring message.” Looking forward to being back in Chattanooga!
FBC Prattville November 1FBC Prattville, Prattville, AL – Sunday evening I’ll be doing a magic and mentalism show focusing on cult awareness and basic apologetics.
Marietta Business Association logo November 4Marietta Business Association Expo, Cobb Civic Center, 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM. I’ll be entertaining throughout the event as well as doing some MC work.
172nd Airlift Wing November 7172nd Airlift Wing, Jackson, MS – A repeat engagement for Family Day for the Mississippi Air National Guard!

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Upcoming Public Appearances

Posted by Joe M. Turner | on September 15, 2009

As a corporate magician, speaker, and entertainer, most of my presentations are for private audiences at meetings and conferences. I have been asked several times during the past week when I will have some appearances open to the public. Here are a few upcoming opportunities.

Marietta Business Association logo September 29 (rescheduled to November 4, see comments)Marietta Business Association Expo, Cobb Civic Center, 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM. I’ll be entertaining throughout the event as well as doing some MC work.
Ken Hartley Supernatural October 8-11Ken Hartley’s “Supernatural,” Abba’s House, Chattanooga, TN, 7:00 PM each night. I’ll be performing close-up magic prior to the show as well as being a guest performer on the stage show.
Shenanigans logo (POSTPONED)Shenanigans at Red Clay Theatre, Duluth, GA. This performance has been postponed. If you have already purchased a ticket, contact the box office to obtain a refund or apply your purchase to the rescheduled show.

Meanwhile, don’t forget that I’m now appearing at Paisano’s on Cedarcrest on Saturday nights when I am in town. 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM each Saturday. If you are making a special trip to see me there, call me to confirm that I’m going to be there.

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Atlanta Magician Turner: 4 Magical Ways to Grow Your Business

Posted by Joe M. Turner | on September 10, 2009

PBA logo

Atlanta Magician Turner Presents Four Magical Ways to Grow Your Business in a Challenging Economy

My presentation today at the Paulding Business Association was on four things I am doing to grow my business.  I offered these tips and reminders as much for myself as I did for the audience.  What were the points?

  1. Identify and measure more specific audiences and target my marketing to them more effectively.  Exactly who am I trying to reach… what are some specific characteristics about them?  How can I help other people help me reach them?
  2. Identify new markets by thinking about different ways my services can be used.  What’s on the other side of that idea I had… that new commercial I saw… that new promotion I heard about?
  3. Strive to keep my communications with clients and prospects both current and relevant.  Is my language appropriate for my audience?  Am I presenting my business with professionalism and credibility?  Am I using new technology effectively?
  4. Do some unusual, offbeat things to generate and sustain buzz.  Where would they least expect me to find their card?

I introduced each of these points with a bit of magic or mentalism — then I expounded on how that experience related to the point and illustrated an idea that they could take away and apply to their own businesses.

The result of all this?  A presentation that communicates useful ideas to an audience in an engaging manner, encouraging both retention of the information and immediate action. Information and entertainment, blended into a presentation that is part show, part seminar.

Are you a member of a chamber, business association, or other group that would enjoy and benefit from a presentation like this? Contact me!


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