Imagine being in a meeting, or giving a presentation, or debating with a colleague and you start spitting out specific facts and figures at will… and without referring to your notes (or Google).
Feats like this demand instant respect.
Those who can remember numbers are perceived as more knowledgeable, intelligent, and trustworthy.
Who wants to be the fool fumbling through their papers between each point to keep looking up data? That’s not how you gain authority.
The problem is, numbers are hard as sh*t to remember. Numbers don’t have a color, they don’t make noises, and you can’t just pick one up and throw it at someone.
Let’s face it, numbers are boring (unless they have 2 or 3 commas and are written on your checking account balance).
We need something to make our numbers POP. Something that will make them stick.
This training post is going to teach you a very effective method called the mnemonic major system. It was developed by a man named Stanislaus Mink von Wennsshein over 300 years ago and it’s the same method used today by many of those memory masters out there rambling off a bajillion digits of pi like it’s nothin’.
Basically what we are going to do is transform digits into letters, letters into words, and words into memorable images you can’t help but remember.
What To Do
Step 1: Learn the code
Below is the translation of digits 0 through 9—tricks to remember are in parenthesis:
- 0 = S, Z (S sounds like the hissing of spinning wheel—which looks like a zero, zero starts with the letter Z)
- 1 = T, D (Both T and D have 1 down stroke)
- 2 = N (N has 2 down strokes. Also, turning 2 clockwise looks like N)
- 3 = M (M has 3 down strokes. Also, turning 3 counter-clockwise looks like M)
- 4 = R (the word “four” ends in R. Also, the bottom half of R looks like half of a 4 turned on its side)
- 5 = L (Roman numeral L = 50. Also, if you hold out 5 fingers, your index and thumb form an L)
- 6 = J, Sh, soft Ch, soft G (the mirror image of 6 looks like a J and Sh, soft Ch, and soft G all sound similar to J)
- 7 = K, C (K can be drawn with 2 sevens on top of each other, hard C sounds like K)
- 8 = F, V (cursive f resembles an 8, V sounds similar to F)
- 9 = B, P (lowercase b and p both look like a 9 when turned)
The letters w, h, y are all filler letters and have no number translation. The same goes for all the vowels—a, e, i, o, u. Also, double letters count as 1 letter and we go by the sound of a letter (so a silent b will not count as a digit).
A phrase is much easier to remember than a long string of digits because now you can visualize images that are associated with that phrase. From there, you can create a story out of that phrase that relates to what the actual number stands for.
Now to remember numbers that are completely lifeless, all you have to do is remember a story with images, color, emotions, etc.—which is much more on par with how your memory system operates.
Step 2: Translate each digit to a letter
Say for example, we are incorporating the birth of the mobile phone into one of our arguments. We want to sound smart, so we nonchalantly toss in the date of the first mobile telephone call— which was 4/3/1973.
- 4 = R
- 3 = M
- 1 = T or D
- 9 = B or P
- 7 = K or C
- 3 = M
So we would be left with: r, m, t/d, b/p, k/c, m
Step 3: Create a word or phrase out of those letters
This ends up being the trickiest part for people because they get too caught up with trying to make the perfect sentence.
Don’t do that!!! We want to have something different.
Just think of anything you can work with. Go with the first thing that pops up in your head. Keep in mind too, you might not have the luxury of time to sit there testing multiple combinations.
So the first thing that came to me was… harm to bake em’. Sounds dumb, I know. That’s a good thing.
Step 4: Create a wacky story that links the phrase to the meaning of the number
Chances are your words or phrases are going to seem like they have nothing to do with the meaning of the number. That’s fine because we have a little something called imagination.
In this step, you will use the power of your imagination to tie these words together and make the story memorable.
For our example, you can visualize yourself tossing one of those HUGE cell phones from way back in the day, into an oven.
Why you would do this, I don’t know. Maybe because you’re weird?
You have to make it something absurd so it stands out to your mind. The more off-the-wall it is, the better.
Now imagine the phone violently sparking until it explodes and takes the entire oven to pieces.
And now you know that it causes “harm to bake em’”.
Again, encoding the perfect message, and creating a practical story is neither required nor encouraged. Just come up with something and roll it into a unique visual that your mind can’t help but remember.
You can use this method to remember numbers such as sports statistics, physical constants, phone numbers, credit card numbers, facts and figures, social security numbers, important dates, and anything else with a number.
- Practice by writing down the numbers 00-100 and coming up with a word for each. e.g. 00 = sis, 01 = sit, 02 = sun, etc.
- Longer more complex numbers only means a longer story. And we remember stories everyday—especially if they are weird.