Facilitation tips – Pocket Book


“How do you remember all our names so quickly?”

A question I get asked a lot in workshops.  I am not blessed with a great memory for names, I have to work hard not to forget.

So, over the years I have developed coping strategies.  One of the most straightforward is my notebook.

I use small Moleskine type pocket books. These are small enough to fit into my trouser or jacket pocket.  They have an elasticated closing band that I use to make sure the book opens at the page I need.

As the audience arrives, I make a note of each person’s name and where they sit.  If I don’t get time to do that as they arrive, then making a note of who sits where as each person introduces themselves is a good backup.

These notebooks are good for capturing content during the day, especially in a fast moving situation where people are presenting and you don’t have a flip chart.

I also photograph each page with my phone.

Evernote picture of my notebook

Evernote picture of my notebook

Then using free apps such as Evernote I can find the things I have written again.

Evernote has an optical character recognition tool that reads my handwriting.

Clever eh?

This is handy if you have to write a report of the workshop afterwards.


2 thoughts on “Facilitation tips – Pocket Book

  1. I think that the main reason that many of us are famously bad at remembering names is that we don’t really pay enough attention in the first place. Writing notes has long been recognised as a good way not just of recording things but of focusing attention, so this is a great example. But what if the environment doesn’t easily allow for whipping out a notebook and pen. Say if you’re standing, with a glass of wine in one hand and a sausage roll in the other…? A couple of my ‘coping strategies’: firstly, common sense I suppose, is to use and explore the name as much as possible at the point of introduction – clarify the spelling, the origins of the name, take an interest without being creepy. The second is a bit weirder. Take the name, or something that sounds like the name, and build a mad visual image incorporating exaggerated features of the person you’re meeting. The madder the better, because that makes it more memorable. Say this white haired guy talking to an oriental (‘only Nixon could go to China’) who suddenly collapses down A-drain…

    Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

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