1776 —

Declaration of American Independence.

The method for remembering these or any other such dates is simple, and is similar to the method for remembering telephone numbers.

All you have to do is to make a word or string of words from the letters which represent the numbers of the date. In most cases there is no point in including the one representing the thousand, as you know the approximate date in any case. Let us try this system on the dates above.

1. The Fire of London in 1666 virtually destroyed the city leaving it a heap of ashes. Our memory phrase for the date 1666 would thus be ashes, axAes, ashes!', or 'cAarred ashes generally'.

2. Beethoven is famous for many musical accomplishments, but among his greatest and perhaps most controversial was the 9th Symphony in which he included a choir. His style of music made full use of the percussion instruments. Knowing this, remembering his birthday in 1770 becomes easy: 'Crashing Choral Symphony'.

3. The signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 marked a new age of sense and reason. To remember this date we can use the phrase Wew Document—Liberalisation'.

4. The Russian Revolution of 1917 was an uprising of the people against what they considered abnormal oppression. They demanded greater equality in the form of Communism. Our memory phrase: 'People Demand Communism'.

5. Printing presses are often great rotating machines that churn out thousands of pages a minute. We can imagine a small version of this as the first printing press, in approximately 1454, which can be remembered by the word 'RoLleR'.

6. The Battle of Waterloo in 1815 was triumphant for Wellington but .can be considered fatal for Napoleon. Once again we use a memory word rather than a memory phrase to remember the date: 'FaTaL'.

7. The invention of the telescope by Galileo in 1608 changed the way in which man's eyes saw the sky. Our memory phrase: 'Changed Sky Focus'.

8. In 1905 Einstein's theory of relativity shed new light on the way in which matter and energy exist. His theory solved a number of puzzles that had occupied man, but also gave rise to many more. Our key word PuZZLe .

9. In the French Revolution in 1789 the king was ranged against the people. Hence we remember the date by '.King Fights People'.

10. The declaration of American Indepencence in 1776 marked a new feeling of optimism and confidence in the American way of life. This can be encapsulated in the one word: CoCKSure ' .

As you can see, the system for remembering important dates in history is a simple one and should make a task which most people find hard an enjoyable exercise in creative remembering.


This next system will be easy for you because it makes use of systems you have already learned. It is also easier than most other systems suggested for remembering such items, because the two large memory systems you have learned—Skipnum and the Major System—may be used together as 'keys' for the months and days (other systems usually require code names that have to be especially devised for the months).

The system works as follows: months are assigned the appropriate key word from the Major System.

The days from 1 to 31 are assigned the appropriate word from the Skipnum system.

To remember a birthday, anniversary or historical date, all that is necessary is to form a linked image between the month-and day-words and the date you wish to remember.

For example, your girl-friend's birthday falls on November 1st. The key word from the Major System for November is 'tate'; and the key word from Skipnum for 'one' is 'up'. You imagine that your girl-friend is framed or hung up in the Tate Gallery.












Law Jaw KeyPoe Pa

Toes Tate Tan

Tea Noah Ma Ray

The anniversary you wish to remember is your parent's Wedding Anniversary which falls on February 25th. The Major System key word for February is 'Noah'; the Skipnum key word for 25 is 'try'. Imagine Noah, who 'married' the pairs of animals, trying to marry your parents at the same time.

Historical dates are just as easy to remember. For example the date when the United Nations came into formal existence was October 24th. The Major System key word for October is 'toes', and the Skipnum key word for 24 is 'trot'. We imagine the different shaped and coloured toes of representatives of the world's nations hurrying (trotting) to meet because of the urgency created by the end of the Second World War.

There is one small danger in this system, and this is epitomised by those people who don't forget the date—they forget to remember it! This can be overcome by making a habit of checking through, on a regular basis, your memory links for the coming one or two weeks.

The memory system outlined in this chapter can be effectively linked with the previous system for remembering historical dates by year. In this way you will have provided yourself with a complete date-remembering system.


The problems and embarrassments with the items listed in the title of this chapter are almost endless!

The speech maker, terrified that he will make a blunder in front of his audience, usually reverts to reading word-forword from a prepared text, the result of which is inevitably a monotonous and de-personalised presentation. The slightly more courageous speech-maker will often commit his speech to memory, falling into the trap of scrambling through it as fast as possible in order to get to the end before he forgets something! In most cases he does forget something and the most awkward silences ensue as he gropes for the lost thread.

Similar, although not so important, situations arise in the telling of jokes. These are not so much embarrassing to the story teller as annoying to the person to whom the joke is being told. How familiar is the situation in which, after ages of build up, the story teller suddenly looks at you with a slack jaw and the exclamation 'Damn! I've forgotten the punch line, but anyway it was a really funny story'.

Dramatic parts present a different problem in that they are usually to be memorised by actors who have continual practise sessions with the same material. Their task is nevertheless still difficult, and each member of the group must make sure that his familiarity with the material is at least on a par with that of the other members. In more lengthy and difficult works, soliloquies and poems are among the items that have to be remembered, and the task becomes even more difficult.

Remembering articles is often necessary in an academic or business situation, embarrassment usually arising during exam time when the student 'knows that he knows' but just can't get the information off the tip of his tongue or his mind; and in the business situation where one is asked to discuss a report that everyone else has read, and either goes completely blank or cannot recall a major point.

These are the problems. How can they be solved? Unfortunately there is no simple system such as the Link and Peg systems discussed previously, but there are methods and techniques that make the remembering of this kind of material much easier. As the techniques vary slightly in different cases, I shall consider each individually.


If you wish to make a good speech one of the cardinal rules is never to memorise it word for word. Another is never to read it.

1. Generally research the topic about which you are going to speak, making recordings of ideas, quotations and references which you think" might prove relevant.

2. Having completed your basic research sit down and plan out the basic structure of your presentation. Do not start to write your speech before you have completed your basic design. I have known people who have written the 'same' speech seven times before arriving at their final draft. If they had organised themselves a little more adequately to begin with, weeks could have been saved!

3. With your basic structure in front of you fill in the details in note form so that you complete an outline which needs only grammatical and sentence structure changes to become a coherent presentation.

4. Practise making your speech from this completed outline! You will find that, having completed the research and having thought about the structure of the material, you will already have nearly memorised your speech! Initially, of course, there will be points at which you hesitate, but with a little practice you will find that not only do you know your speech, you also know what you are talking about !

This point is especially important, for it means that when you finally do speak to your audience you need have no fear of forgetting the word-order or what you are presenting. You simply say what you have to say, using the appropriate vocabulary and not a rigid succession of sentence structures. In other words, you become a creative rather than a static speaker. This is Always preferably.

5. As a precautionary step it is advisable to jot down on a small card, or to remember on one of your smaller memory systems, the key words in the basic outline of your speech. This greatly reduces the possibility of forgetting.

The only problem you may consider still unsolved is that of not being able, immediately, to find the right word at the right time. Don't worry about this. When the audience senses that a speaker knows what he is talking about, an effective pause makes it obvious that he is creating on the platform. This adds rather than subtracts from the enjoyment of listening, for it makes the presentation less formal and more spontaneous.

Jokes and Narratives

Jokes and narratives are far easier to deal with than are speeches, because most of the creative work has already been done for you! The problem is nevertheless a two-fold one: first, you must remember the joke or narrative to begin with, and second, you must remember its details.

The first of these problems is easily solved by using a section of the major system as a permanent library for the stories you wish to file. I need go into this point no further, as it is simply a matter of selecting a key word and associating it with the key word of the System.

The second problem is slightly more difficult to overcome, and involves once again our use of the link system. Let us take, for example, the joke about the man who went to the pub and bought a pint of beer. Having bought this beer, he suddenly realised he had to make a telephone call, but knew that some of the 'characters' in the bar might well swipe his pint before he returned. In order to prevent this he wrote on his glass 'I am the World's Karate Champion.' and went to make his telephone call, securely thinking that his beer was safe.

When he returned he saw immediately that his glass was empty and noticed more scribbling underneath his own. It read 'I am the World's fastest runner—thanks!'

To remember this joke we consciously select key words from it, joining them into the basic narrative.

All we need from this full paragraph of narration are the words 'pint', 'phone', 'write', 'karate champion', and 'runner'. With these few words, which can be linked in whatever way we please, the whole sequence and essence of the joke will return immediately, and those horrible silences as one runs out of steam in the middle of a story need never recur!


Articles may need to be remembered on a very short-term basis or on a long-term basis, and the systems for remembering each are different.

If you have to attend a meeting or to make a brief resume of an article you have only recently read, you can remember it almost totally, and at the same time can astound your listeners by remembering the pages you are referring to! The method is simple: take one, two or three ideas from each page of the article and slot them on to one of your peg memory systems. If there is only ono idea per page, you will know that when you are down to memory word 5 in your basic system, you are referring to the 5th page, whereas if there are two ideas per page and you are at memory word 5 you will know you are the top of page 3!

When an article has to be remembered over a longer period of time, we once again revert to the link system, taking key words from the article and linking them in such a way as to make them most memorable. This method of remembering will enable you not only to recall the sequence of the events and ideas but also to retain a more adequate general impression of what the article was about. The act of consciously attempting to remember is itself a part of learning.

Dramatic Parts and Poems

The last section of this chapter deals with those two items that have been in the past, and are still unfortunately today, the bane of the schoolchild.

The method usually employed (and recommended) is to read a line over and over again, 'get it'; read the next line, 'get it'; join the two together; 'get them'; read the next line and so on ad nausum until the first lines have been forgotten!

A system recommended and used successfully by well-known actors and actresses is almost the reverse. In this system the material to be remembered is read and re-read quickly but with understanding over a period of four days, approximately 5 times a day. In this manner the reader becomes far more familiar with the material than he realises and at the end of his 20th reading tries to recall, without looking at the text, the material to be remembered. Almost without fail the mind will have absorbed 90% or more totally, and remembering will have been a natural outgrowth of reading!

As I have said, this system has been found far more successful than the line-by-line repeating system, but even it can be improved considerably.

Once again the link system and key words come into play. If the material to be remembered is poetry, a few major key words will help the mind to 'fill in' the remaining words which will almost automatically fall into place between the key words.

If the material to be remembered is part of a script, once again key words and linking images can prove essential. The basic content of a long speech can be strung together with ease, and the cues from speaker to speaker can also be handled far more effectively. It is these cues that often cause chaos on the stage because of the silences and breaks in continuity that may occur when one performer forgets his last word or another forgets his first. If these last words (or even actions) are linked in the way that we link objects in our memory system, breaks and confusion can be completely avoided.

In summary, the remembering of speeches, narratives, jokes, articles, dramatic parts and poems involves a number of slightly differing techniques. In all cases, however, the use of some form of link, key words, and repetition is necessary.

0 0

Post a comment