Mindful Relationships

9 Insights From Brain Science To Make You Unforgettable

9 Insights From #Brain #Science To Make You #Unforgettable

Most people want to be remembered for something. We want to be the type of people that leave an impression and influence others in positive ways.

However, many of us are flying blind as to how to become memorable and influential. Many fall prey to expensive, unhelpful information on this topic. Fortunately, neurosresearch is shedding light on what makes a person or thing memorable. Brain researchers have uncovered several key insights that you can apply to keep your message on people's minds.

Dr. Carmen Simon is at the forefront of exploring and applying the neuroscience of being memorable. She is a cognitive neuroscientist, author and founder of Memzy, a company that uses brain science to help corporations create memorable messages. Carmen’s most recent book, “Impossible to Ignore: Create Memorable Content to Influence Decisions,” has won the acclaim of publications such as Inc.com, Forbes and Fast Company and has been selected as one of the top international books on persuasion.

Here are some key insights:

1) The Foundation of Memory and Influence is Attention

Attention is a precursor to memory. It’s much easier for you to be memorable when people are paying attention. If you have attention, you’re more likely to be remembered. If you’re remembered, you’re more likely to influence their decision-making.

The question, whether you’re talking face-to-face or virtually, whether you’re talking to one person or one hundred, whether you talk to somebody professionally or personally is:

Can you manage to capture your audiences' attention and stay on their minds long enough to influence what they do next?

The #Brain Chooses to #Remember and #Act on #Things It Wants to Move #Towards

2) The Brain Chooses to Remember and Act on Things It Wants to Move Towards

The most ancient reason we have a brain is so that we can move.  The brain does not move unless there is a memory involved. Unless you stay on people’s minds, it’ll be harder for you to influence where they move next - literally and metaphorically.

3) Keep in Mind that People Suck at Remembering

We forget our lives almost as quickly as we live them.

Most people forget 90% of what you share with them after 48 hours. Will your audience remember the most important 10%? Before you communicate, ask yourself “what is my 10%?” What is the “10%” of information you want your audience to remember? Unless you are intentional about it, it’s probable that they won’t remember your important message.

Start with the question: What would you *really* like people to remember? Many of us aspire to be memorable, but very few of us know what we want to be memorable for.

By far, the biggest communication mistake that people make is not having clarity about what they want to put in other's minds. Getting clarity for your message gives you an increased chance of being memorable.

The #Brain Makes Every #Decision Based on #Memories

4) The Brain Makes Every Decision Based on Memories

The brain does not make any decision unless there is memory involved. There is no decision that you'll ever make, consciously or not, that does not reference your memory. If we want to convince people to move towards us and our message, we have to figure ways to stay in people’s minds.

5) The Brain is Lazy

The brain remembers and acts on that which is easy. Given the choice to think or not to think, what do we prefer? The brain is constantly looking for ways to conserve energy because it consumes a lot of energy. So any chance it finds to conserve cognitive energy, it will take it. So if you want to stay on people’s minds, don’t only ask “what is my 10%?” but also, “how can a make my 10% come to mind easily?”

Get #Clear on What You Want People to #Remember

6) Get Clear on What You Want People to Remember

It is important to ask oneself “do I have the clarity of that 10% message and do I enable cognitive ease?”

You cannot control something unless you determine what it is you want to control. So be sure you have the clarity of that message.

7) Predictability Can Help With Memory

The brain helped us survive by predicting the future. It predicts the future by referencing past memories. For this reason, to maintain an audience's attention, it’s usually best to help your audience predict what is next. How can you cultivate a feeling of familiarity among your audience with your message?

One way is to help your audience create mental models, templates, schema for interpreting reality and your message. Humans thrive on building mental models. If we didn’t have our templates, life would be overwhelming.

Have you ever experienced shock when a familiar grocery store changes its layout ? When that happens, somebody has messed with a cognitive mental model that you had about that place. We love mental schema because they help us conserve energy. When we have a reliable mental model for where the avocados are, we don't need to think about which aisle to go down to find them.


You’re More Forgettable to Those Who Are Not Thinking Like You

8) You’re More Forgettable to Those Who Are Not Thinking Like You

Sometimes the reason we’re forgettable is because the mental schema in our minds doesn’t match with how the audience models the world.

Quite often we’d like to portray our ourselves as novelty seekers, but given the choice between familiarity and novelty, what do you really prefer? If we put your brain in an fMRI and flashed a set of pictures in front of your eyes at 1 per every 250 milliseconds - faster than your conscious brain could recognize - we would see evidence that your unconscious mind prefered familiar images to novel ones. The reason is that the familiarity makes them easier for your brain to work with.

So to help your audience attend to your message, try to hook it into an existing mental model that your audience is familiar with.

9) Work in Novelty and Surprise

Too much familiarity can backfire. If you’re exposed to too much of the same information, you may pay attention at first, but after a while you will become habituated to it and no longer pay attention. Finding the right balance between familiarity and surprise is important.

Some people think novelty and surprise are the same, but they are not. Something novel is something that you haven’t seen or heard before. A surprise is something that you’ve seen or heard before, but did not expect.

The brain is constantly looking for ways to predict what happens next. Surprise is essentially a prediction error. Thus, biologically speaking, surprise is “bad” in that it signifies that your brain was not able to predict what happens next.

And yet, we enjoy surprises all the same. Part of the reason we enjoy surprises is because they can trigger pleasurable neurochemicals, opiates, to get released into the brain. But we also enjoy surprises because the gap between what you expect, and what happens in reality, is where the brain learns.

The question is whether you can be a good choreographer between something that is familiar to you and your audience, and something that they did not expect. Too much familiarity, you’re boring. Too much surprise, you’re weird and tiring.

If you’re talking to risk-tolerant audience, you can incorporate more surprise elements than usual into your communication. However, even a small amount of surprise is sufficient to take the brain out of its habituation.

9 Insights From #Brain #Science To Make You #Unforgettable

In Short...

The more your thinking matches your audience's thinking, the easier it is to hold their attention. Make your message as familiar as possible and sprinkle in novelty and surprise.  If you have a person’s attention, you’re more memorable. If you’re more memorable, you are more likely to influence decision-making.

The meat of this post was drawn from Dr Carmen Simon's Consciousness Hacking Talk on April 27th, 2018. Check it out.


This post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. He is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a cognitive coach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain.

How to Decide When You Should Talk Fast or Slow

How to Decide When You Should Talk Fast or Slow #Communication

Speaking Fast vs. Slow

Some people are naturally fast talkers and some people are slow talkers.
Most of us have the ability to influence the speed of our speech one way or the other. 

Have you ever wondered if fast talking is "better" than slow talking or vice versa? 
The answer to that question is contextual. So what talking speed is best in what circumstances?

1. When You Want to Look Smart

Fast Talking (at least, if you're in the US)

Quickness of speech has nothing to do with your intelligence. Einstein was not a fast talker. Yet fast speakers are often viewed as intelligent

In fact, actors in the US get instructed to speak faster when they play intelligent characters. Think Aaron Sorkin. Scriptwriters believe that the faster a character speaks, the more clever and competent they come off.

This idea is backed up by research that Norman Miller and his colleagues conducted in 1976. Their data suggested that people who spoke faster seemed more credible to listeners. Fast speech signaled confidence, intelligence, objectivity, and knowledge. After all, it takes a certain amount of mental firepower to quickly construct and present thoughts.

That said, cultural factors may be at play.
Norman Miller's study was conducted only in the United States.

How to Decide When You Should Talk Fast or Slow #Communication

2. When You Want to Get People Excited

Fast Talking

Research by Stephen Smith and David Shaffer in 1995 suggested that fast talking is associated with anger, excitement and fear. If you're trying to elicit any of these emotions at any point in a conversation or presentation, speeding up your speech can help. 

People naturally talk faster when they get excited. So when you signal your excitement with fast speech, the listener's experience will mirror that emotion. 

3. When You Want to Communicate Effectively

Slow Talking

Many of us believe that we need to say a lot of words to communicate the essence of our thoughts. But we often overlook the fact that the human brain can only recall 4-7 chunks of information at a time.

If you speak 300 words, and the listener can only hold 10 of them, what are the other 290 words good for? Probably not much. Even worse is that the listener may internalize only the least important seven words to your message.

Fast speech rates lower a person's ability to comprehend and understand what the other person is saying and why they are saying it.

The more you slow down your speech, the more the listener's comprehension will increase.

When you speak many words at high speed, you are "setting the table" for miscommunication. So when you have something important to say, slow down, be brief, and convey the essence of your message in 10 words or less. This will make sure your message lands. Besides, research shows that fast speech correlates with lower information content. So you probably didn't need all those quickly spoken words anyway. 

When you communicate slowly and mindfully, you'll be surprised by how few words you need.

Check out this related post: "Chunking": The Real Secret to Effective Communication

4. When You Want a Soul-to-soul Connection

Slow Talking

Ever notice that whenever there is a big, romantic moment between people in a movie the tempo of speech between characters slows?

When we are highly focused or deeply connected to another person, our speech rate naturally slows down and we speak less.

You can easily train your voice to convey more trust to others by slowing down your speech rate and dropping your pitch. This was tested at the University of Houston. When doctors spoke slower, the listeners perceived them as "more caring and sympathetic."

By slowing your speech you can dramatically increase intimacy and empathy through your conversations. And, as noted above, you will be communicating more effectively. Effective communication opens doors to deeper relationships more intimate connections with others.

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5. When You Want to be Persuasive

It depends...

According to Miller's research, when people spoke at 195 words per a minute (a speedy conversational pace) they were more persuasive than at 100 words per minute (a slower conversational pace). This result led researchers to the conclusion that fast talking was predictably better for persuasion.

In this study, Miller and fellow researchers tried to convince participants that caffeine was bad for them. Presenters that spoke faster were more convincing than others.

This study is seems humorous to witness. Imagine a person speaking at a hyper-caffeinated pace explaining the dangers of coffee. Nevertheless, the findings seemed to support the notion that if you spoke faster, you were more persuasive.

Later, researchers began to wonder if this was really true.

Further research showed that:

  • Fast talking is more persuasive when the audience is inclined to disagree with the speaker. 
  • Slow talking is more persuasive when the audience is open-minded.

Here's why:

It boils down to the fact that fast-talkers are less comprehensible. When a fast-talker delivers a message to a disagreeable crowd, there isn't much time for the audience to come up with counter-arguments. And when they fail to come up with counter-arguments, they are more persuaded. 

It works the other way around when the audience is more open and likes the speaker's message. When a message is delivered slowly, there is plenty of time for the listeners to resonate with speaker and agree more deeply.

How to Decide When You Should Talk Fast or Slow #Communication

Staying Mindful in Our Communication

Although there are some contexts where fast talking can be useful, the research shows that slow talking is way better for communicating and connecting with others.

Before entering a discussion, consider asking yourself what your intention is. This will help you enter a mindful state as you proceed. Most likely, you want to feel a connection and communicate clearly with whomever you are talking to. And if that's true, you should slow your speech rate.

If you train with the exercise below, you will change your brain in ways that can dramatically improve your communication skills and social intelligence.

Neuro-Exercise: The 10-10 Communication Game

Try this brain-training game with a partner. 
The object of the game is to have a conversation where each person takes turns speaking only 10 words or less.

Each person holds their fists in front of them. For each word spoken the speaker raises one finger. When the speaker has raised all 10 fingers, the speaker's turn is over. Then, the other person has to respond in 10 words or less.

Do this while deeply listening and paying close attention to facial expressions.

At first you’ll feel a little weird, but the finger counting slows down your mind, and then it actually becomes easier for your brain to select essential words that convey more precisely what you mean. The slower speaking also improves improving neural comprehension in the listener’s brain, and it becomes more difficult to feel anxiety or irritability, two emotional qualities that derail the communication process.

Of course, this is just a training exercise, but when it comes to effective speaking and problem solving, we recommend that you try your best to adhere to the 20-Second "Rule," speaking for no longer than 20 seconds – and much less when you want to convey a key point or concept. Twenty seconds is about how long it takes to speak 3 sentences, but you’ll still have to count out your words on your fingers until you build the intuitive skill of speaking briefly. Without your fingers, you'll probably say too much and muddle the effectiveness of your conversation. With them, you can solve problems in a quarter of the time it normally takes.


The above post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. Josiah Hultgren is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a NeuroCoach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain. His mission is to help create a more vibrant world and apply neuroscience in ways that help people reach their highest potential.


Speed of speech and persuasion. Miller, Norman; Maruyama, Geoffrey; Beaber, Rex J.; Valone, Keith

Celerity and Cajolery: Rapid Speech May Promote or Inhibit Persuasion through its Impact on Message Elaboration Stephen M. SmithDavid R. Shaffer

Cues of being watched enhance cooperation in a real-world setting. Bateson M, Nettle D, Roberts G. Biol Lett. 2006 Sep 22;2(3):412-4.

Effects of anonymity on antisocial behavior committed by individuals. Nogami T, Takai J. Psychol Rep. 2008 Feb;102(1):119-30.

Eyes are on us, but nobody cares: are eye cues relevant for strong reciprocity? Fehr E, Schneider F. Proc Biol Sci. 2010 May 7;277(1686):1315-23.

Evaluating faces on trustworthiness: an extension of systems for recognition of emotions signaling approach/avoidance behaviors. Todorov A. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Mar;1124:208-24.

Common neural mechanisms for the evaluation of facial trustworthiness and emotional expressions as revealed by behavioral adaptation. Engell AD, Todorov A, Haxby JV. Perception. 2010;39(7):931-41.

Use of affective prosody by young and older adults. Dupuis K, Pichora-Fuller MK. Psychol Aging. 2010 Mar;25(1):16-29.

"Worth a thousand words": absolute and relative decoding of nonlinguistic affect vocalizations. Hawk ST, van Kleef GA, Fischer AH, van der Schalk J. Emotion. 2009 Jun;9(3):293-305.

Leadership = Communication? The Relations of Leaders' Communication Styles with Leadership Styles,  Knowledge Sharing and Leadership Outcomes. de Vries RE, Bakker-Pieper A, Oostenveld W. J Bus Psychol. 2010 Sep;25(3):367-380.

Voice analysis during bad news discussion in oncology: reduced pitch, decreased speaking rate, and nonverbal communication of empathy. McHenry M, Parker PA, Baile WF, Lenzi R. Support Care Cancer. 2011 May 15.

Components of placebo effect: randomised controlled trial in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Kaptchuk TJ, Kelley JM, Conboy LA, Davis RB, Kerr CE, Jacobson EE, Kirsch I, Schyner RN, Nam BH, Nguyen LT, Park M, Rivers AL, McManus C, Kokkotou E, Drossman DA, Goldman P, Lembo AJ. BMJ. 2008 May 3;336(7651):999-1003.

Use of affective prosody by young and older adults. Dupuis K, Pichora-Fuller MK. Psychol Aging. 2010 Mar;25(1):16-29.

Gestures orchestrate brain networks for language understanding. Skipper JI, Goldin-Meadow S, Nusbaum HC, Small SL. Curr Biol. 2009 Apr 28;19(8):661-7.

When language meets action: the neural integration of gesture and speech. Willems RM, Ozyürek A, Hagoort P. Cereb Cortex. 2007 Oct;17(10):2322-33.

When the hands speak. Gentilucci M, Dalla Volta R, Gianelli C. J Physiol Paris. 2008 Jan-May;102(1-3):21-30. Epub 2008 Mar 18.

How symbolic gestures and words interact with each other. Barbieri F, Buonocore A,Volta RD, Gentilucci M. Brain Lang. 2009 Jul;110(1):1-11.

Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation. Tang YY, Ma Y, Wang J, Fan Y, Feng S, Lu Q, Yu Q, Sui D, Rothbart MK, Fan M, Posner MI. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Oct 23;104(43):17152-6.

Comprehension of speeded discourse by younger and older listeners. Gordon MS, Daneman M, Schneider BA. Exp Aging Res. 2009 Jul-Sep;35(3):277-96.

The "Survival Kit" of Mindfulness Techniques for Empaths

The "#Survival Kit" of #Mindfulness Techniques for #Empaths

Empathy is the ability to "put yourself in the shoes" of other people and deeply connect with their experiences. The effects of feeling empathically "seen" can be profoundly transformative. It causes people to become more open, cooperative, and willing to evolve their point of view. It's almost like a superpower. Indeed, it is crucial to humanity. For these reasons, those adept at empathic connection are absolutely invaluable.

The "#Survival Kit" of #Mindfulness Techniques for #Empaths

However, many empaths struggle to manage their talents for interpersonal connection in a healthy way.  They often overly empathize with others and lose their sense of self in the process.

After empaths immerse themselves into other people's feelings and issues, they may feel they are left carrying others' emotional burdens as their own. To counteract this, it is best that they periodically reground themselves when they are connecting with others. In other words, they should fall deep into the connection, and completely bungee back into a more detached state over the course of their dialogues. This may seem like a difficult challenge, but there are simple mindfulness-based hacks that make it easy.

Here's the "survival kit" of mindfulness techniques for empaths:

The "#Survival Kit" of #Mindfulness Techniques for #Empaths

1. Mindful Yawning

It may seem far-fetched, but yawning is among the most beneficial things you can do for your brain. Yawning can almost instantly bring you into a state of boosted social intelligence and simultaneously help you feel more grounded. It also decreases stress, increases your concentration and enhances your consciousness. It lowers the hyper-activity in frontal lobe functioning and turns down useless "mental chatter." It helps you stay present.

For more information on practicing mindful yawning, check out our post "Yawning is the Ultimate Stress and Focus Hack."

Sometimes yawning can send the social signal that you are either bored or tired. So, unless you explain why you are yawning, discretion is advised. If you know you are about to enter a stressful dialog with someone, consider yawning privately beforehand. Yawning creates neural empathy and that's why it's contagious.

The "#Survival Kit" of #Mindfulness Techniques for #Empaths

2. Super-slow Stretching

Slow stretching allows time for your brain to send a relaxation signal to relieve tension manifesting in the body. Take a full 60 seconds just lifting your shoulders to your ears so that the brain can notice the subtle tension and send a relaxation signal to the muscles. Try repeating this with other parts of your body.  If you stretch the way most normally do, you won't even notice how tense your muscles are.  With yawning and super slow stretching you can enter a state of very deep relaxation in a minute or less.

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The "#Survival Kit" of #Mindfulness Techniques for #Empaths

3. Sensory Awareness Through Touch

Self-touch is a proven technique to heighten your sensory awareness and enhance your brain functioning. In a multi-university study, sensory awareness techniques were shown to increase one's sense groundedness and self-control. It helps you stay connected to yourself and retain a sense of yourself. It reduces the intensity of both physical and psychological pain. It brings you into the present moment where you do your best thinking and problem solving. This practice, along with yawning and super-slow stretching stimulates emotional "caring" circuits in your brain. This self-nurturing increases empathy, self-compassion, and even boosts your immune system.

The "#Survival Kit" of #Mindfulness Techniques for #Empaths

4. "Chunking" Your Conversation

Normal conversation causes anxiety and stress, but mindful conversations can spark the opposite. People tend to speak many more words than are necessary to communicate their ideas. However, our brains can only "chunk" together 4-6 pieces of information at a time. Thus, the more words you use, the worse the odds are that the person hearing you will hone in on what's important. Misunderstandings are stressful. So when you have something important to communicate, slow down, be brief, and try to convey your message in 10 words or less. You can make this a game and ask other people to join you in limiting their words. When you speak mindfully you'll be pulled into in the present. It's impossible to experience anxiety or depression when speaking this way.

For more information, check out our blog post: "Chunking": The Real Secret to Effective Communication.

The "Survival Kit" of #Mindfulness Techniques for #Empaths


Here's a fail-proof formula for staying grounded while exercising empathy:

1. Immerse yourself in the other people's feelings for a minute or two.

2. Reground yourself by coming back into the present moment.  Mindfully yawn and stretch. Feel your own body. Anchor yourself in your deepest values.

3. Reconnect with the other person (client, employee, family member), bringing your groundedness and peacefulness into the conversation.

Viola! If you do this, you won't feel exhausted or burned out after empathizing with another person.

The above post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. Josiah Hultgren is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a NeuroCoach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain. His mission is to help create a more vibrant world and apply neuroscience in ways that help people reach their highest potential.The content was derived from the Neuro Coach Pro Certification Program training created by Mark Robert Waldman.


Library of Congress documentation of the value of yawning (along with early photographic evidence of its use in the classroom)

A thermal window for yawning in humans: yawning as a brain cooling mechanism. Massen JJ, Dusch K, Eldakar OT, Gallup AC. Physiol Behav. 2014 May 10;130:145-8.

Yawning: unsuspected avenue for a better understanding of arousal and interoception. Walusinski O. Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(1):6-14.

Yawning, fatigue, and cortisol: expanding the Thompson Cortisol Hypothesis. Thompson SB. Med Hypotheses. 2014 Oct;83(4):494-6.

The thermoregulatory theory of yawning: what we know from over 5 years of research. Gallup AC, Eldakar OT. Front Neurosci. 2013 Jan 2;6:188.

Yawning and its physiological significance. Gupta S, Mittal S. Int J Appl Basic Med Res. 2013 Jan;3(1):11-5.

Yawning throughout life. Giganti F, Salzarulo P. Front Neurol Neurosci. 2010;28:26-31.

How yawning switches the default-mode network to the attentional network by activating the cerebrospinal fluid flow. Walusinski O. Clin Anat. 2014 Mar;27(2):201-9.

Effects of body-mind training and relaxation stretching on persons with chronic toxic encephalopathy. Engel L1, Andersen LB.

Newberg & Waldman's Compassionate Communication

Somatosensory pleasure circuit: from skin to brain and back. Lloyd DM, McGlone FP, Yosipovitch G. Exp Dermatol. 2015 May;24(5):321-4.

Effects of massage on the anxiety of patients receiving percutaneous coronary intervention. Peng S, Ying B, Chen Y, Sun X. Psychiatr Danub. 2015 Mar;27(1):44-9.

Bodily pleasure matters: velocity of touch modulates body ownership during the rubber hand illusion. Crucianelli L, Metcalf NK, Fotopoulou AK, Jenkinson PM. Front Psychol. 2013 Oct 8;4:703.

An fMRI study on cortical responses during active self-touch and passive touch from others. Ackerley R, Hassan E, Curran A, Wessberg J, Olausson H, McGlone F. Front Behav Neurosci. 2012 Aug 7;6:51.