In the News: The Mind Palace

Today in Tech Times, Katrina Pascual reports on a new study about memory, published just yesterday in Neuron. In the study, researchers used fMRI to assess the brains of 23 of the world’s most successful memory athletes and matched controls. What they found was that the memory athletes had increased connectivity in their brain compared to the control participants, which is an interesting finding in itself.

The coolest part of the study, however, was that they then gave the control participants 6 weeks of memory training, teaching them to use mnemonic techniques like the Mind Palace, in which you remember something spatial (like a palace) and associate the things you need to remember with locations in the palace. After training, the control participants brains showed increased connectivity in the same areas as the memory athletes, demonstrating that memory is an ability that can be learned.

All of this is awesome, but how does it relate to The Science of Speaking? In the context of speaking, memory is key, for both the speaker and the audience. When you give a speech, you want your audience to remember as much of your speech as they can so that they can effectively apply it—but even before that, you want to remember as much of your speech as you can so that you can effectively present it!

The Mind Palace technique can help with both of these goals. In The Science of Speaking, I present a variety of strategies for making your points stick, one of which is extended metaphor. This is very similar to the Mind Palace technique: when you use extended metaphor to package your points, you’re attaching each point to a different part of the metaphor, just as you attach points to locations in the palace. The audience is more likely to remember the metaphor, which then makes them more likely to remember each of your points as they remember each part of the metaphor. Of course, as I note in the book, this benefit isn’t only for the audience: when you make your points easier for the audience to remember, they’ll also be easier for you as the speaker to remember, making your job much less stressful!

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