Jonathan Hancock

Jonathan is a record-breaking memory expert, writer, trainer and teacher. He broke the first of his two Guinness World Records while he was still at school, and used his memory skills to gain A grades in all his exams – and a First from Oxford University. He was the first ever World Student Memory before becoming the official World Memory Champion.

Jonathan has written twelve books about memory and learning for adults and children. For several years he wrote and presented the Institute of Management’s learning skills course, along with workshops in primary and secondary schools around the UK. He has appeared at book festivals, on numerous television and radio programmes, and has worked as a memory trainer to people in many different walks of life. Jonathan has acted as a consultant to media companies and as a broadcaster in his own right. For fifteen years he presented and produced daily radio shows for the BBC. Jonathan is currently working as a teacher in Brighton where he lives with his wife and three children. A keen juggler and magician, he is in training to run his fifth marathon. He also works with The Learning Skills Foundation as Founder of The Junior Memory Championship, the first national memory competition for primary school children.

Q&A

Q: What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
A: That you can take a highly strategic approach to learning and remembering. You don’t have to leave it to chance. Decide exactly what you want or need to know, choose from a wide range of tried-and-tested techniques, then do just enough to fix it all in your mind. You know what you’ve done to switch on your learning, so you also know exactly what to do to recover the key information when the time arrives

Q: What is the most underrated skill in business?
A: The ability to activate other people’s memories. When you understand the key principles of memory, you know how to speak and write memorably. You give more impact to your presentations, communicate more effectively in meetings, and make sure that everyone remembers you, for all the right reasons

Q: What is your top tip for success?
A: To think in pictures. Meeting new people, reading documents, listening to seminars, learning new systems… whenever you need to remember something, think of images that will jog your memory about the important ideas. Make the key pictures colourful, funny, strange and exciting, start linking them together into scenes and stories, and you’ll be amazed at how much they help you recreate all the information you need to know

Books by Jonathan Hancock in this series

Successful Memory Techniques in a Week: Teach Yourself