Here I share a really useful technique that I use to very quickly help me remember a list of up to ten things. The technique is called “the pegging system.” The more you use the technique the better you get. I use it regularly to remember the headlines of my talk or the order of jokes for my stand-up routine.
The idea is that (in your mind’s eye) you “peg” what it is you are trying to remember to a number. There are three stages to this:
Stage 1 - The Rhyming System
Substitute numbers with something visual. I use a rhyming system whereby each number from 1 – 10 is replaced with something that rhymes with it. Hence:
1 = Run
2 = Zoo
3 = Tree
4 = Door
5 = Hive
6 = Sticks
7 = Devon
8 = Gate
9 = Wine
10 = Hen
Most people can master Stage 1
in a matter of seconds.
Stage 2 - The things you need to remember
Decide on the ten things you need to remember, (this could be headings for your presentation.) List them alongside the numbers. Here I’m going to use a list of random words:
1 = Marketing
2 = Car Wash
3 = Bathrobe
4 = Money
5 = Map
6 = Fountain
7 = Lifeguard
8 = Banana
9 = Valentine’s Day
10 = Treacle
Stage 3 - Pegging
“Peg” or link your word to the number substitute by visualisation.*
1. So, you need to link your word Marketing to the word Run. Picture yourself running along through a busy market handing out Marketing leaflets. You’re wearing a running vest that says “Marketing” on the front. There, you get the picture (forgive the pun.) Now when you think “One” the word Marketing should pop into your brain.
Continuing with the list
2. Picture elephants at a Zoo (2) – washing cars at a Car Wash with their trunks.
3. Visualise a Bathrobe hanging high in a Tree (3).
4. In your mind’s eye open a Door (4) and imagine the joy of finding a large bagful of Money behind it.
5. Imagine a group of bees studying a Map – they’ve lost the way to their Hive (5).
6. See a Fountain with huge jets of water shooting up into the sky. You notice a bundle of Sticks (6) being held up in the air by the force of the water.
7. Picture laying on a sandy a beach in Devon (7). A Lifeguard meets your eye!
8. There’s an ornate wrought iron Gate (8) with a Banana impaled on each of its spikes
9. Visualise a Wine (9) bottle – on it’s label there’s a huge heart symbolising Valentine’s Day. See yourself enjoying a glass of the wine with your Valentine.
10. Picture a Hen (10) having difficulty walking. She’s stuck in a river of Treacle.
…then Stage 3 - Simply recall the number rhymes and you’ll recall the pegged “answers”
*Tony Buzan the master of memory suggests that you do more than visualise – that you employ as many senses as possible when linking the number rhyme to your object. So... hear the hen clucking furiously as she struggles to get out of the treacle.
Seems mad! But it’s almost impossible to forget your list once you’ve learned it. I find it tremendously useful when delivering a presentation. I hope you do too.