[VIDEO] How to Learn People’s Names on Tour – Techniques for Remembering Names

Learning techniques to remember people’s names is a great skill for everyday life.

But as tour leader, guide or someone who works in the service industry – learning names becomes one of your most important skills. In this video, we’re going to look at how to learn people’s names on tour and give some practical suggestions for quickly recalling the names of your guests.


Dale Carnegie, the author of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, wrote his flagship book in 1936 but it remains a best seller to this day. Among his many quotable recommendations, you’ll find this tasty gem:
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”


Carnegie saw how much people were delighted when hearing their own name and how quickly you could build rapport with someone by learning, recalling and using their surname.


Names are deeply tied to our identity and individuality – and when someone remembers our name after meeting us – it makes us feel important, respected and shows that the other person is interested in who we are. It almost always leaves a lasting positive impression, and given we want our customers to be as happy and satisfied as possible, learning names and using them whenever possible is highly recommended as a tour leader.


But this, of course, begs the bigger question, ‘How to learn people’s names on tour?’ In this video, I share six techniques for working on on the skill of recalling and using people’s names as a tour leader.


These practical suggestions come from tour leaders around the world and can be practiced daily in our everyday lives.


To help you out further, we’ve also created a PDF cheat sheet called ‘Creative Name Games for Tour and Activity Leaders’  These are some of our favourite icebreakers and name games for kids and adults.


Check out this handy PDF resource by clicking the button below!


Feel free to share this video if you’re inspired, pass on the link to our name games PDF, but most importantly, leave a comment for us down below! What are your tips for recalling and using people’s names?


Thanks for being here,


Kelsey T

Download your free PDF “Creative Name Games for Tour and Activity Leaders” by clicking below!

Finished Watching?

In the comments section, share your best tactics for remembering people’s names and grab your free PDF – ‘Creative Name Games for Tour and Activity Leaders’


Hi, there. Kelsey Toner here from Be a Better Guide. Today, we’re looking at techniques for remembering names. Remembering. As Dale Carnegie famously said, “A person’s name, to him or her, is one of the most sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

What he basically meant was when you can remember someone’s name, it signals to them that they’re important and that you’re listening closely. It allows great guides to quickly build rapport with their guests. Let’s take a look at six name-remembering techniques.

One: Commit to remembering names. You have to make a conscious decision to remember people’s names. Don’t let yourself off easy by saying, “I’ve got a bad memory,” or, “I’m just not good with names.” This is a skill that you can and should work on. Before every tour, say to yourself, “I’m going to work on remembering people’s names. This intention is half the battle.

Two: Focus your attention. The biggest reason that we don’t recall the names of our guests is actually just that we weren’t paying that close of attention. If someone tells you their name and then two seconds later, you can’t remember it, nine times out of ten, that’s not a memory problem, that’s a focus problem.

We, as tour leaders especially, can be distracted by all that’s going on in our head: the logistics of the trip, seeing that somebody else is arriving, thinking about our first stop or what we might say. This is a habit that we want to break because we want to be 100% with the guests when we’re speaking with them.

When we are hearing someone’s name for the very first time, we want to try and absorb the name but two, also absorb some of the physical characteristics of the person. The more vividly we can associate that name with a physical person and a face, the more likely we’re going to recall.

Honestly, the biggest trick to focus is being ready for your tour. Come early, have everything 100% done so you don’t need to be running around, and in those first ten or fifteen minutes, you can be 100% focused on learning people’s names.

Three: Repeat their name. Repetition is such a simple but effective technique when it comes to memory. There’s a couple of ways we can use this with guests. One of my favorites is to repeat their name out loud within the first five to ten seconds of meeting him.

If someone introduces themselves as John, you might say, “Hi, John. It’s nice to meet you,” or, “What brings you on tour today, John?” Make this a conscious effort to use their names. Secondly, do repetition in your head silently.

Especially if you’re doing those circle introductions, Peter, Paul, and Mary, we might, after each new person’s name, repeat and go back around the circle so that you’re solidifying those names to repetitions. So when we got to Mary, we might say, “Mary, Peter, and Paul.” This repetition will go a long way.

Four: Associate. Linking someone’s name to another object or a rhyming word or a celebrity or even your impression of them is really an effective way to help your memory recall. In fact, in memory championships, this is the main tactic used by the people who compete.

Some examples of association could be alliteration. We might see that we’ve got Joan from New Jersey, so we can say Joan from Jersey. That’s a way of associating to help recall. Maybe Sarah is in Sales, so we say, Sarah Sales.

We could also use rhyming words like there’s Dave, Dave needs a shave, or Hairy Mary, or other non-hair related associations as well. You can use celebrities. So Ryan, imagine a scene with Ryan Gosling or someone Nicole, dancing with Nicole Kidman. That can help.

Even sometimes the impression that they give of you. We might say, “Paula is a little pushy.” You can say Pushy Paula or Sweet Susan or something like that. All these little associations actually make a huge difference, and this tactic, I found super effective when I was remembering people’s names.

Five: Use aids. Depending on the nature of your tour, you might have a guest list or an equipment list that has names on it. This is fantastic to use as a resource. You could even have it on your clipboard or in front of you and be making notes as people are introducing themselves.

It could be physical characteristics or some of the associations that you want to make like green shirt, giant afro, man with the Monaco, depending on your tour, of course. You can also use just a clip board and note paper if you don’t have a guest list to take some notes on people’s names.

Some people use their phone. You just want to be careful that doesn’t look like you’re distracted. Using a Notes app on your phone can work as well.           

Six: Test yourself. Throughout the tour, do a quick scan to see whose names and associations you may have forgotten and then try and find a way to figure out those names. You could ask somebody that they’re traveling with discreetly, but honestly the best way is just to directly ask. Don’t be embarrassed about it.

Say something like, “I’m sorry, could you remind me of your name?” People are very understanding and they’ll appreciate your authenticity.

Those are six tips for helping you work on your skill of remembering people’s names. To help you further, we’ve also created a PDF cheat sheet called Creative Name Games for Tour and Activity Leaders. These are some of our favorite ice breakers and activities that are really designed to help people learn each other’s names.

This is great not only for you as a tour leader but also helping your guests learn each other’s names because that helps with group cohesion, it helps avoid some of that awkwardness and a downtime when guests need to interact with one another. It helps creates that sense of journey.

You can download that PDF by clicking the link above, have a look through, and then just choose the ice breaker or a name game that might best fit with your style of tour.

Thank you so much. As always, please feel free to like or share this video. It means a lot to us. You can subscribe to the YouTube channel. Before you go, let us know in the comments what are your best techniques for remembering people’s names? Thanks so much for being here. We’ll see you next time.

Kelsey Tonner

An experienced, global tour guide and founder of the Be a Better Guide Project. Life is too short for boring! Let's share passions and give people memories of a lifetime.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Debra Huntington

    We play an introduction game where everyone says their name and something they like that starts with the first initial of their name. “Hi I’m Deb and I like donuts” then they repeat everyone else name and what they like that has gone before me. “This is Jane and she likes jam”.. etc.

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