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A MEMO FROM Angela Garry

I’M ON MY WAY TO SPEAK ATA PA event in London. I’ve just got myself settled

on the train from Nottingham (with a hot chocolate and bacon sandwich) and I’ve taken out the papers relating to my speech so I can go through them. A moment later, I spot someone sitting across the aisle. He’s fast asleep with a newspaper on his lap, and is wearing dark glasses, but I swear I recognise his face. If only he’d wake up and take the sunglasses off for a second so I could see his eyes, then I might be able to identify him. Wracking my brain, I think that he used to be on TV, some time ago. While I definitely know his face, his celebrity status has completely escaped me. I can’t recall his name, or what he’s famous for. Suddenly, I have a brainwave and take

out my iPhone, connect to the on-train wifi and type ‘soap actors’, ‘1990s TV shows’ and ‘comedians from 2000’ into the Google Images search bar. I even take a surreptitious photo of him to compare side-by-side with the pictures I’ve found online. Some time later we enter a tunnel. The

train slows down and the man wakes up, glances round, spots me and smiles. Oh dear lord, I know that smile, but who on earth is he? It’s driving me mad not knowing! Then he clears his throat and speaks to me. “Angela? Angela Garry? Hello!How are you? How long has it been since you graduated?“ His voice washes over me and I blush as I immediately recollect where I know him from. This ‘famous celebrity from the past’ is actually a lecturer on the degree course that I graduated from 21 years ago. That’s

methods for remembering people’s names, which I think are

worth sharing with you. Repeat a person’s name twice as soon as you’ve heard it – for example, when a colleague says to

you, “This is Sandra Wilson, she’s visiting us from Acme Corp”, you should respond with “Sandra Wilson? It’s nice to meet you, Sandra Wilson – welcome! What brings you to us from Acme

Corp?” This helps to firmly cement their name and where they are from into your memory bank. If a person’s name is unusual, ask them to give you some more information about it – where it came from or if it has a particular meaning. Say the name over and over in your mind as they

are replying to you. After your first conversation with

someone, add their name and phone/ email details to your contacts list in

Outlook and add a few notes on the conversation, or any personal

how I know his face – I used to watch him regularly. In fact I attended his lectures twice a week for four years. I say hello in return and we exchange a



few words about how time flies. Then I start to tell him what I’m doing these days, but he cuts me short. “No need to tell me,” he says. “The beauty of the web is that I can Google the names of ex-students to see what they’re up to. ‘Most connected PA’ it says here – you're quite the celebrity now, Angela!“ I make a mental note to

keep his photo as a reminder of the so-called household name who turned out to be less high profile than me. On the return journey home, I made far

better use of the train’s wifi to research memory skills, and found a few failsafe


information they supplied. When they next get in touch, you’ll have some details to remind you who they are. There are lots of other methods out there

for improving your memory skills – find the ones that work best for you and put them into practice. Don’t waste your time, like me, Googling celebrities on a train! ●

Having originally trained as a teacher, Angela Garry moved into administration and has worked as a PA for the past 15 years. She is the most connected PA and PA trainer on networking site LinkedIn and runs a company called Pica Aurum that offers training to PAs and senior administrators in the UK and worldwide. Find out more at


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