The link method of memory

Memory techniques are based on universally applicable principles governing what we can and cannot remember. It has very little to do with intelligence and a lot to do with practice and technique.

The text that follows is an excerpt and edited version of a chapter taken from „How to develop a super powered memory” Harry Lorayne. A Thomas and co. Preston 1958. This method of enhancing one’s ability to memorize items in sequence can be applied to both consecutive interpreting and vocabulary learning.

To read more about similar techniques just search Google or have a look at this article in the Guardian newspaper. The day I met the memory man. Instead of rooms in a building you can also use a familiar route, like home to work, but you will see that both are based on the memory’s preference for the visual.

For Language Acquisition….

It is a fact that images can be more easily remembered than words…try out the technique below. Take 4 or 5 sections of a technical picture dictionary from which you wish to learn terminology…pick successive words for the list from different sections of the dictionary and apply the link technique below to the words. It is possible to get 20 technical terms into your ACTIVE vocabulary in just 10 minutes each day.

For Consecutive….

This is a slightly unusual approach to consecutive and should probably only be uses as a complement to other memory aids, like notes. You will see here though that the human brain recalls images more easily that words and this can be usefully applied during consecutive interpreting. 

There are many memory techniques out there and whether they can be used in consecutive will depend to some extent on the individual interpreter. Try out the technique below..linking images ideas within your consec speech. 

The fundamental principles of how we remember apply and one of those is and will always be that if you understand what has been said it will be easier to remember!

The Link method of memory

I want to show you now that you can start immediately to remember as you’ve never remembered before. I don’t believe anyone with an untrained memory can possibly remember twenty unassociated items, in sequence, after hearing or seeing them only once. Even though you don’t believe it either, you will accomplish just that if you read and study this chapter. 

Here are the twenty items you will be able to remember. 

carpet, paper, bottle, bed, fish, chair, window, telephone, cigarette, nail, typewriter, shoe, microphone, pen, television, plate, doughnut, car, coffee pot, brick. 

Can you recall the twenty items in order now? 

The link method of memory is based on the combination of mental images. The images must be as ridiculous as possible. Let’s learn by doing. I shall explain no more about the method rather let’s try it out by creating twenty ridiculous images for these items. 

The first thing you have to do is get a picture of the first item, “carpet”, in your mind. Don’t see the word carpet but see a carpet, any carpet, perhaps own from your home. In order to remember the objects we are going to associate them with things you already know. Here the other items. 

To remember the second item, “paper”, you must associate or link it with paper. The association must be as ridiculous as possible. For example you might picture a carpet in your home made out of paper. See yourself walking on it and hear the paper crinkle underfoot. Alternatively you could picture yourself writing on a piece of carpet. Either of these will do. A piece of paper lying on a carpet, though, is not ridiculous enough and you will not remember it.

You must see this ridiculous picture in you mind. Close your eyes for a fraction of a second, as soon as you have seen the picture you can move on. Do not see the words.

So now the thing you already know or remember is “paper”, the next step then is to link paper to the next item, “bottle”. You can stop thinking about carpet entirely know. Make an entirely new ridiculous link between bottle and paper. You might see yourself reading an enormous bottle or writing on a gigantic bottle instead of paper. You could see a bottle pouring paper not liquid. Pick whichever seems most ridiculous to you and see it in your mind’s eye. 

You must see the picture. Don’t think long about which picture, the first idea is usually the best one. 

We have linked carpet to paper, and then paper to bottle. We now come to the next item, which is “bed”. Make a ridiculous association between bottle and bed. A bottle lying on bed would be too logical. So picture yourself yourself sleeping in a large bottle instead of a bed, or perhaps taking a drink from a bed instead of a bottle. See either of these pictures and then stop thinking of it. 

You realize that we are linking one object to the next of course. The next item is fish. See a giant fish sleeping in your bed or a bed made out of a giant fish. See the picture you think is most ridiculous. 

Now “fish” and “chair”. See a gigantic fish sitting on a chair. Or you are catching chairs instead of fish while fishing. 

Chair and window – see yourself sitting on a pane of glass, which is painful, instead of a chair or see yourself throwing chairs through a closed window. See the picture and move on. 

Window and Telephone – see yourself answering the phone, but when you put it to your ear, it’s not a phone you’re holding but a window. Or, you might see your window as a large telephone dial. See the one you think is most ridiculous and move on. 

Telephone and Cigarette – you’re smoking a telephone instead of a cigarette; or you’re holding a large cigarette to your ear and talking to it instead of a phone. Alternatively you might see yourself picking up the phone and cigarettes flying out of the ear-piece.

Cigarette and nail – you’re smoking a nail; or hammering a lit cigarette into the wall instead of a nail. 

Nail and Typewriter – you’re hammering a gigantic nail through your typewriter, or all the keys are nails, pricking your fingers as you type. 

Typewriter and shoe – see yourself wearing typewriters instead of shoes or see a large shoe with keys on that you’re typing on. 

Shoe and microphone – you’re wearing microphones instead of shoes or you’re broadcasting into a large shoe. 

Microphone and pen – you’re writing with a microphone or you’re talking into a giant pen. 

Pen and TV – see a million pens gushing out of the TV or there’s a screen in an enormous pen you’re watching TV on it. 

TV and plate – picture your TV as one of your kitchen plates or see yourself eating out of the TV instead of a plate, or you’re watching a TV show on your plate as you eat.

Plate and doughnut – see yourself biting into a doughnut, but it cracks in your mouth because it’s a plate. Or, picture being served dinner in a doughnut instead of on a plate. 

Doughnut and car – you might see a large doughnut driving a car or you are driving a doughnut instead of a car.

Car and coffee pot – a large coffee pot is driving a car or you’re driving a coffee pot instead of a car. Alternatively picture a car on your sideboard with coffee percolating in it. 

Coffee pot and brick – see yourself pouring coffee from a brick or see bricks pouring out of the spout of the coffee pot. 

That’s it. If you have actually “seen” these mental pictures in your mind’s eye then you will have no trouble remembering the twenty items in sequence, from “carpet” to “brick”. Of course it takes much longer to explain this than to do it – each picture 

Now starting with carpet go through the list without the help of the book. 

Unbelievable? Yes but it works as you can see. Try making your own list and memorizing them in the same way. 

Of course we are brought up to think logically and I am asking you to think illogically which may be a problem at first, however after just a little practice you will have no problem at all in creating ridiculous pictures. Until then here are some simple rules to help…… 

1. Picture items out of proportion. In other words too large. This is why I used the word “gigantic” often above – to get you to imagine the items out of proportion.
2. Picture you items in action whenever possible. Unfortunately it is the violent and embarrassing things we all remember rather than the pleasant ones. Anyone who has been in an accident or been acutely embarrassed doesn’t need memory training to recall it so try to get violent action into you images. 
3.Exaggerate the amount of items. For example above I talked about “millions” of cigarettes flying out of the telephone. If you had also seen them lit and burning your face you would have had action and exaggeration. 
4. Substitute your items. This is the one I use most often. It is simply picturing one item instead of another i.e. smoking a nail instead of a cigarette. 

That’s it. The link method boils down to this: associate the first item with the second, the second to the third, the third to the fourth and so on. Make your association as ridiculous and/or as illogical as possible and most important SEE the pictures in your mind’s eye.

You can now try out the technique on friends or with shopping lists. If you have trouble recalling the first item then associate with a the friend testing your skills, if you have trouble recalling other items then the link was not illogical enough.

What you have memorized will be easily retrievable for hours or days. Also you will be able to recall the list backwards with no extra effort.