How to Use Mnemonic Techniques for Memory Improvement

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 31, 2020 | Published October 7, 2019

Updated December 31, 2020

Published October 7, 2019

Many people use mnemonic techniques to help them improve their memory. These techniques can help them remember how to spell difficult words, recall a new colleague’s name and memorize information. There are a variety of mnemonics techniques, so it’s best to choose one that works for your learning style and the type of information you need to remember. In this article, we explain what mnemonic techniques are, different types of mnemonic techniques and how to use them. 

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What are mnemonic techniques?

Mnemonic techniques are ways to help you memorize a phrase or idea with patterns. Mnemonic techniques can include songs, poems, rhymes, outlines, images and acronyms. Mnemonics give meaning to something ordinary to make it more memorable when you try to recall it. This technique is useful for storing information in both your short- and long-term memory.

Related: The Importance of Cognitive Ability in Your Career

Types of mnemonic techniques

Here are eight types of mnemonic techniques you can use:

  1. Spelling mnemonics

  2. Feature mnemonics

  3. Rhyming mnemonics

  4. Note organization mnemonics

  5. Alliteration mnemonics

  6. Song mnemonics

  7. Organization mnemonics

  8. Visual mnemonics

1. Spelling mnemonics

Spelling mnemonics help you remember how to spell a difficult word with patterns, phrases or rules. For example, to memorize the spelling of “separate,” you can use the phrase “there is a rat in separate.” Another common spelling mnemonic to remember that “I” comes before “E” in many words is “Never believe a lie.”

2. Feature mnemonics

A type of mnemonic memory training involves visually identifying a prominent feature of a person you are meeting for the first time. This technique helps you to associate their name and face better. For example, you might meet a new colleague named Daniela, who has large blue eyes. You can remember her as “Blue-Eyed Daniela” to connect a feature about her appearance to her name so you can recall it quickly when you meet again.

3. Rhyming mnemonics

Another common mnemonic technique is using rhyme to memorize information. One well-known example of a rhyming mnemonic is the phase “In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” The information you want to memorize is the date Columbus began his travels and knowing it rhymes with “ocean blue” helps you recall "1492." You can apply this technique to any information you need to remember at work.

4. Note organization mnemonics

Some people learn best when they organize their thoughts into notes. This is a great mnemonic technique to use in your job, whether you are getting ready for a presentation or need to memorize new data. For example, you can form the main ideas into questions and write them on one side of a notecard while adding the answers on the opposite side. You train your brain into seeing questions and remembering the answers when you do this repeatedly.

5. Alliteration mnemonics

When you want to remember a person’s name, alliteration is a convenient tool. If you meet a colleague named Sabina, you can think of other words that start with the letter “S” that describe her. You may find Sabina is sophisticated, sincere and stylish. When you need to recall her name, you will remember the three words you associate with her and be able to narrow down her name to one that begins with the letter “S.”

6. Song mnemonics

Some people learn best when they can sing, so you can insert the information you want to memorize into a song. A popular example is the “A-B-C” song that schoolchildren use to learn the alphabet. When they sing this repeatedly, they will begin to remember the order of the alphabet. You can do the same mnemonic technique at work by putting new information into a song format.

7. Organization mnemonics

Grouping information together helps you remember them more easily. If you have a large group of words or numbers you need to memorize, you can break them up to recall them quickly. For example, if you need to remember the numbers “456159753481,” you can divide them into smaller groups. If you group them into “4561 5975 3481,” you may have a better chance of remembering them.

8. Visual mnemonics

Linking images together involves creating a visual story to connect the information you need to memorize. Every item leads you to remember the following article. For example, you may need to remember to bring your laptop, reading glasses, notepad and pen to your upcoming meeting. You can create a short story to link these items together so you don’t forget any of them.

Related: How to Take Notes

How to use mnemonic techniques

Follow these guidelines when using mnemonic techniques:

1. Choose the appropriate mnemonic

Choose the correct mnemonic for your situation. For example, if your goal is to learn how to spell a word, you may want to use the spelling mnemonic technique. If you are trying to remember a new employee’s name, you might use the prominent feature or alliterative mnemonic technique. 

2. Practice the technique

You may want to practice your mnemonic several times to help you remember it. Some people find they have an easier time memorizing a name or word when they practice it repeatedly for several days. This way, they will have an easier time recalling the information. 

3. Repeat the mnemonic to others

You may find it helpful to not only practice your mnemonic but also say it out loud to other people. Some people find that they have an easier time memorizing a phrase or word when they hear themselves say it. You can repeat it to other employees in your department, particularly if you are trying to remember the phrase for an upcoming meeting or presentation.

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