Our fast-paced lives and technological reliance has made our memory fade and attention spans smaller. According to a study by Microsoft, the average human being has an attention span of 8 seconds. Research also shows that within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50% of the information presented to them and within 24 hours, they will have forgotten an average of 70% of new information.
You may have experienced the frustrations of conducting a meeting, just to have your employees forget key talking points or stumbled on your last speech because you couldn’t remember what to say. In both scenarios, poor memory is to blame.
There are several ways to incorporate memorization techniques in both your personal and professional lives. These techniques include loci, acronyms, rhyming, linking, chunking, PQRST, and writing things down.
This article is the first of a series that will discuss the varied techniques to remember more. In this article, we explore the loci and chunking methods. Below is a description of each memory technique, how you can put loci and chunking into practice, and a comparison between the two options.
The loci technique, or memory palace technique, was created over 2000 years ago to help ancient Greek and Roman orators memorize speeches. Orators were only deemed successful if they could deliver their speech by memory. Similar to today, audiences were more likely to believe that the orator was competent and authoritative if they did not refer to their notes.
“Loci” (being Latin for “places” is a memory technique based on the idea that a person can best remember places that they are familiar with. So if you can link something (key ideas, items to a list, etc.) with the place that you know well, the location will act as a cue to help remember what you are trying to memorize.
As mentioned in Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci, the Greeks and Romans practiced loci by mentally placing key points of their speech in locations along familiar routes through their city or palace. To remember the key point, each item they passed on the street represented an idea. As they passed each location, they visualized the idea interacting with a specific location. When they were ready to give their speech, they mentally walked through the same journey in their memory palace, retrieving the key ideas they wanted to discuss.
How to Use Loci
- First, think of a route that you know well, such as walking through your home.
- Next, visualize each part of the information that you want to memorize in a different room or area of your house.
- Then, mentally place each item that you want to remember at one of the locations
- Finally, when you want to remember the items, visualize your house and go through it room by room in your mind. Each time you walk through the locations in your mind, a memory should arise.
Here’s how it would work if you wanted to memorize key talking points for a speech:
- Customer Service
As you visualize your house, imagine a huge marquee with your company mission hanging from the door. Don’t just imagine the words, but rather see the lights flashing around the mission.
Now open the door, enter the living room, and imagine tons of people running across the room to help someone in the far corner of the room. Then, walk through the living room, taking a left at the dining room and visualize money raining from the ceiling. Last, envision paintings coming to life through your kitchen walls.
Once you have walked through memory palace, when you try and remember your list, all you have to do is think of your front door.
The loci method has proven to be an effective memorization technique from ancient to modern times. This form of memorization is great when you are trying to prepare a speech, meeting, or presentation.
Chunking refers to the process of taking smaller pieces (chunks) of information and grouping them into bigger units. By taking smaller pieces of a larger whole, you can improve the amount remembered. An example of chunking is how phone numbers are put into chunks rather than one long line of numbers.
According to neuroscientist Daniel Bor, author of The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning, chunking represents humans’ ability to “hack” the limits of our memory and combine the information in a more meaningful way resulting in more information being retained.
How to Chunk
- If you are in the process of rolling out a complex system, try breaking down the major concepts into smaller topics.
- Look for connections to relate each unit in a relatable way. What do the items have in common?
- Practice going over each chunk. For example, periodically repeat each subtopic to associates to ensure that they retain the information.
A good manager can help employees handle a greater bandwidth of information by effectively chunking information. Managers should build upon the chunks and recall information from past chunks using repetition and connection.
Loci Vs Chunking
Both loci and chunking allow you to recall greater amounts of information at a time. Loci is a great method to use when attempting to memorize speeches, lectures, or lists. Chunking is best used when trying to memorize long numbers or breaking down complex topics into relatable chunks.
Which method works best for your organization?
Don’t forget! At Learning Tribes our blended learning solutions use a combination of techniques to maximize corporate learning. To get started contact us.