Some years ago, I was part of a team running media training at London Business School. Over the course of a few years, we had the opportunity to work with some high-profile and wonderfully skilled journalists – at the time, I was regularly pointing at the TV and boasting to my family “I’ve worked with him!”.
Sometime after the programme had ended, I bumped into one of those journalists. We had worked together sporadically for a day at a time over a few years. Well, without hesitation, he greeted me using my name. Of course, as a journalist, he’s good at remembering names – it’s part of the job. But I felt so honoured!
Putting a name to a face
The effect of remembering or forgetting someone’s name is very significant. Making an effort to learn and remember the names of the members of a group is a compliment to them, and builds rapport very quickly. I’m comically bad at it in my personal life; my wife will roll her eyes as I introduce myself to parents at my kids’ school who I have (unknowingly) met many times before and, on one occasion, I introduced a husband to his own wife! At work, though, I’m not too shabby.
First contact & reinforcement
For me, the critical moment is when you first shake hands. I’ll look the person in the eye and say their name back to them: “Matthew, hi!” before breaking that moment. Then, I use their name as soon as possible after meeting: “Matthew, help yourself to tea and coffee – we start at 9”. As the group builds, I’ll silently scan the room, matching faces and names. I’ve found that by doing this, I can remember up to 25 names by the first tea break.
When I was trying to forge a career as an actor, I rather unfortunately forgot the name of a leading casting director on three separate occasions. When I introduced myself for the third time and wearily reminded her of my own name, she politely responded with “Yes, I know”. You may be unsurprised to hear that my phone didn’t ring with the big offers! That said, I am loving what I do now, so perhaps it was the right mistake at the right time.
We’d love to introduce ourselves to your team. If you’d like to discuss your training needs, just drop us a line!
Managing Director, Sun and Moon Training
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