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AMA The Ultimate Guide for Job Interviews or How To Memorize Speeches

Daniel LeBlanc
Aug 11, 2017

Confidence typically comes with age and experience but it can be learned or at least practiced. The best way to become more confident is to put yourself out there and not be afraid of rejection or failure. Volunteer in your community and learn to be a better communicator. Many people lack confidence simply because they lack social skills. Even if the job you are applying for doesn’t involve working with customers you are going to have to communicate to your co-workers.  Social skills are a critical job skill.

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group of people thinking about job interview or performance anxiety

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Aug 13, 12:44PM EDT0

Is abstract knowledge incompatible with literal memorization?

Aug 11, 1:07PM EDT30
  • Solomon Shereshevsky (Luria, 1968 - the Mind of a Mnemonist) had an almost perfect literal memory. He remembers strings of hundreds of digits for years after only having read them once. I would like to explain this by his awesome synesthesia: everything is encoded in so many ways that everything is considered as new, and so a new memory trace is formed to remember it (we know that "first time" experiences are well remembered (Robinson, 1992), as are distinctive features (Hunt & Worthen, 2006)). Shereshevsky's gift was compensated by big difficulties recognizing (visages, which he considered extremely changing) and had basically no understanding of abstraction: metaphor, figurative language.

  • Kim Peek, the "real Rainman", had a rote knowledge of 6000 books, yet was unable to extract abstract information from this knowledge (his memory was like a computer's, basically). He was also unable to understand metaphors.

So, it seems to me that abstraction is incompatible with literal memory: we have to forget some concrete features to get the abstract essence. Is there any scientific literature about an incompatibility between abstraction and rote memorization?

Reference: https://cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/4538/is-abstract-knowledge-incompatible-with-literal-memorization

Last edited @ Aug 11, 5:16PM EDT.
Aug 11, 5:13PM EDT22
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Are all conscious experiences stored as memories?

Aug 11, 10:13AM EDT42

MEMORY is not a place in the brain where things get stored, like a shoebox. Memories are specific, neural pathways that are triggered each time we ‘remember’ something.

The storing and retrieving of memories take place everyday in our brains. There are different kinds of memories. Some long-term memories last a lifetime, while other, short-term, memories are quickly erased.

Short-term memory is ‘working’ memory; we may store a telephone number for only a few moments until we no longer need it. Most short-term memories last only briefly. Long-term memories can last a lifetime, and the more useful they are for our survival and well-being, the longer they last. Sometimes these memories are painful, other times blissful.

Semantic memory is fact-based. We use semantic memory when we recall the name of a state capitol or that Times Square is located in New York City. Procedural memory is related to motor activity. It is the reason we don’t have to learn to ride a bicycle each time we want to go for a bike ride. Episodicmemory keeps track of our personal experiences, usually with us at the center. Who were we with on our trip to New York? When were we there? Was it fun, or was it a nightmare of noise and confusion, or perhaps both?

Episodic memory occurs in the brain’s frontal cortex, the last to develop in children, and the first to break down in later life.

When we sleep, daily memories are sorted and consolidated, then delivered to the areas of the brain responsible for long-term memory.

Our strongest memories are associated with emotions. Memories are deepened by intense emotional experiences. Intense emotions produce strong memories. Although physical pain is also remembered, emotional pain is relived. When we remember an intense emotional event, we experience it all over again, almost as though it were happening for the first time.

An efficient, but often frustrating, process that occurs in our brain is memory ‘editing’. Long-term memories are always modified and distorted during the process of consolidation. These distortions can involve stretching or shortening of time durations, physical distances, or the sizes and scale of objects.

Known as commoning, the brain re-creates a memory with just enough detail so that we can recall the most important aspects of the memory, but not enough to allow us to remember specific details. Other distortions include the invention of new features that fill gaps in the original memory, or the merging of elements from two or more entirely different experiences. This is why we don’t always remember events exactly as they happened, or why two or more people witnessing the same event may have very different recollections of it.

Reference:  https://naturescienceart.org/2011/10/30/memory-and-consciousness/

Aug 11, 5:15PM EDT57
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How long could Henry Molaison keep his memory of the present?

Aug 11, 9:44AM EDT1

Molaison was able to remember information over short intervals of time. This was tested in a working memory experiment involving the recall of previously presented numbers; in fact, his performance was no worse than that of control subjects (Smith & Kosslyn, 2007).

Aug 11, 5:17PM EDT0
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What effects does multitasking have on comprehension and memory of audiobooks/speech?

Aug 11, 5:53AM EDT0

Multi-tasking has been proven to be ineffective as far as memory of audiobooks and speech.  At best this is known as the diffuse mode of learning and it could help with creative breakthroughs once you have learned the subject using focused learning techniques.  Humans do things best when they concentrate on one thing at a time.  Multi-tasking is best left for less important tasks.  

Aug 11, 5:20PM EDT1
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It's said that everything we've ever experienced is recorded somewhere in our brain. Is this true?

Aug 11, 4:11AM EDT1

While it's happening, yes.  Memories are nothing more than established neural pathways that can be recalled only if they have been well learned as in the chunking method of learning. We store things in our short-term memory all day long but they are overwritten when more important things come along.  The fact that something is recorded by our brain does not mean it is there for long-term storage.  Sometimes trauma can cause the brain to protect itself by refusing to recall memories that are extremely painful.  Sometimes those memories can be forced to come to our forethought with various therapies.  While everything we've ever experienced is recorded most of it is overwritten, often immediately after the next thing happens.  

Aug 11, 5:23PM EDT1
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Why do we forget?

Aug 11, 3:40AM EDT1

Memories are neural pathways connecting the pieces of an experience or skill.  Things that are well learned cannot only be recalled later (such as our job skills) but if we learn them well enough (a process known as chunking helps) then they can be recalled in unique ways that allow us to apply them to situations that may be completely different than those originally learned.  For instance, when trying to solve a problem in physics we can use our skills in calculus and apply the calculus we learned in ways that we never have before.

Our brains do have limited capacity for learning although nobody has ever established what that is.  Depending on things like your age, health and learning habits you might be either more or less limited in your learning capability.

Depending on your capability, memories are overwritten as new things happen, just as in a computer hard drive.  It is theorized that in the forefront of our brain we can only concentrate on 4 chunks of data (working memory) at any one time.  By committing things to long term memory (stored in the dendrite synapses) we can call on them to help solve any of the 4 areas of working memory.

Aug 11, 5:36PM EDT1
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Am I too old to learn?

Aug 11, 1:17AM EDT0

I think you know the answer to that question is no.  Many people never become really cerebral until their older or senior years.  Much of learning depends on your experiences at any given point in your life.

As a child, I came from a home where we never had enough to eat. It is very difficult to learn when you are hungry or suffering from any kind of stress or trauma.

Leaving home at 15, it took many years for me to get a handle on life and begin a real career.  Once I had enough to eat my knowledgebase grew quickly.

The older I get the faster and better I learn.  That's why it is so important for us to learn ways to continuously increase the average life expectancy of humans.  For most of us, the older we get the wiser.

Much of that is dependent on how we take care of ourselves and what we do with our lives. It is never too late to learn anything. 

I will also refer you to a recent blog article I created about success;  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/success-without-failure-just-luck-daniel-leblanc

Last edited @ Aug 12, 8:56AM EDT.
Aug 11, 5:39PM EDT1
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Is there such a thing as a photographic memory?

Aug 11, 12:42AM EDT1

Absolutely.  And actually we all have an uncanny ability to remember things visually.  Think about the last time you visited the home of a friend.  While you may not be able to remember all the tiny details, for the most part you could likely draw a map of their living room and indicate where most of the large furniture was positioned.

We learn best from imagery and visual cues.  One of the learning techniques I have adopted in my own educational career is to associate complex terms, word or definitions with images.

A good example of this is the physics formula for calculating force;  F=ma.  To remember this formula a professor showed me an image of a donkey flying through the air.  The F is always easy to remember since the formula is about calculating force.  The m stands for mule in my mind although it really stand for 'mass'.  The a stands for #$! (use your imagination), in my mind but it really stands for acceleration.  Thus I can easily recall the formula; force=mass x acceleration.

There are also people with the uncanny ability to see an image once and then completely recreate it later.  Most of us do not have this ability and it is very rare but some of us do.  We continue to study those rare and amazing brains in an attempt to learn what can be done to improve our own memories.  

Last edited @ Aug 12, 9:00AM EDT.
Aug 11, 5:49PM EDT1

I seem to have more trouble remembering words and names I know perfectly well. Am I getting Alzheimer's?

Aug 11, 12:33AM EDT67

I'm not a medical doctor and if you find that an increasing problem then I would for sure talk to a doctor.

That being said, different circumstances can make it harder to remember names.  Our nervous system is a very powerful thing.  If you are nervous, afraid or having any kind of emotional disturbance at the time you meet someone then it could just be nerves that is causing the issue.

Other considerations are about the amount of use you give your brain. Many studies are being conducted to try to learn ways to prevent alzheimers.  Early studies are showing promise in simply making sure you are using your brain on a daily basis.

There are studies showing that brain power can decrease with age but other studies suggest this is due to a lack of use.  When people get older they tend to slow down both in exercise and brain usage. 

The brain is similar to muscles in your body.  The more you exercise it the stronger it gets.  People who continue to work into their senior years seem to be less susceptible although that isn't really established yet.  Early studies seem to support this idea though.

I spend at least 30% of my waking hours learning new things.  This seems to keep my brain really focused.  I am approaching my senior years and I just completed a masters in computer science only 2 years ago.  Instead of getting slower my brain seems to be getting faster and more capable.

What you do in your spare time can also change your ability to learn. Drugs and alcohol for sure will diminish your brain power.  I gave up alcohol use entirely in my 40's realizing that it was counter-productive to my life goals.  I also try to get more exercise physically and eat better food.  

I suspect rather than alzheimers you are more likely experiencing the effects of a more sedentary life but that will be up to you to decide.  

See a doctor if you are truly concerned about lapses in memory power. 

Last edited @ Aug 12, 9:02AM EDT.
Aug 11, 5:58PM EDT76

Thank you for the advice

Aug 12, 12:56AM EDT66

Is there difference between a memory of a dream and memory of waking experience?

Aug 10, 11:47PM EDT71

Not really.  Memories are stored in the same neurons and synapses whether they are dreams or waking experiences.  

It is an interesting question though as recent studies are showing that people have the ability to transfer dream experiences to a perceived reality.  After having a dream, some people can later believe the experience really happened.  This ground-breaking work is really quite fascinating and goes a long way to explain some of the things that people have claimed happened to them.  

Aug 11, 6:04PM EDT36
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I've read that people only use 10% of their brain. Is this true?

Aug 10, 11:44PM EDT30

Studies of neural patterning in the brain is in it's infancy.  I will answer this by saying we once thought this true but modern thought is that we only use 10% of our brains capacity not 10% of our brain.  In other words, the neurons are there, we just don't use them for anything.  Some of us don't use any of them at all.  

Last edited @ Aug 11, 6:06PM EDT.
Aug 11, 6:05PM EDT25

Ha ha you can say that again!

Aug 12, 1:35AM EDT40

Why do I have so much trouble remembering people's names?

Aug 10, 11:21PM EDT29

Nervousness, commonly referred to as 'stage fright' or 'performance anxiety' is most often the cause of forgetting someone's name.  Perhaps you are initimidated when you meet a person, or just inexperienced in social situations?  Nervousness is the most common cause of this although there can be other underlying health issues as well.

If you have serious issues with forgetting things then for sure you should consider consulting your doctor.

Alcohol use can also seriously erode brain performance.  But for most people forgetting peoples names has to do with nervousness.

A great way to overcome this is to practice by getting out into social situations more often.  Joining a club or participating in work events can help you to become more confident in crowds and social occassions.  Belonging to a Toastmasters Club has really gone a long way to help me to learn to remember peoples names.

A good rule of thumb is to remember to repeat a persons name out loud when you first meet them.  This helps your brain establish a link with a face to a name and also makes sure you heard their name correctly.

Use their name to address them as soon as possible after an introduction.  For instance, if I met someone named 'Karen' then immediately after being introduced I would ask her a relevant question such as 'Karen, how did you come to be here?' or 'Karen, what do you do for a living?.  Using their name immediately after being introduced really helps to cement the name with the face in the neural patterns of your brain. 

Last edited @ Aug 11, 10:15PM EDT.
Aug 11, 6:15PM EDT46
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Do mnemonic strategies really work?

Aug 10, 9:30PM EDT17

For some.  We are all different and memory techniques that work for one person might not work for others.  You have to experiment with different strategies to find what works best for you.

For me, the Pomodora method seems to work best.  I spend 25 minutes of focused learning time on a speech or concept I need to memorize and then I allow myself an hour of diffuse thinking time with relaxation.   

It is also important for me to vary my study location and to break up my study time over days rather than hours.  Learning is like building a brick wall where you slowly build up your knowledge base a row at a time.  A rushed job makes for a poor quality wall.  

I study my speeches at my desk, in the location where I am actually going to deliver the speech (if possible) and when I am out walking or working out on the treadmill. 

During some of my study time I repeat my speech from the very beginning.  Throughout my study time I repeat my speech beginning from various locations within the speech.  I find this helps me to stumble less when I am actually presenting to a live audience.

A visual habit of relating a complex task to an image works well for me.  If mnemonics works for you then great but if not, keep trying different techniques until you find something that does work.  

Last edited @ Aug 12, 9:32AM EDT.
Aug 11, 6:21PM EDT60

Yes, I guess we should dwell on our perception type in that case. I'm a visual person, so memorizing process should include visual items, and so on

Aug 12, 1:50AM EDT29

What's the most effective way to learn and revise foreign language vocabulary?

Aug 10, 7:14PM EDT19

As with anything, practice makes perfect.  In the example of learning a language the obvious best method is by using what you have learned in a real world situation.  Many people trying to learn a foreign language simply take a sabatical to a country where that language is spoken.  

To learn anything well you have to use it and often.  That's really the best way.  There are lots of different approaches to studying foreign languages and those are readily available online or taught through your local university.  As far as which of those is best, that is going to be a personal journey.  What works for one doesn't work for all.  It's going to be a trial and error situation.  To learn a language well, hang around other people who already know the language or other students who are learning the same language and practice communicating to each other.  

Aug 11, 6:25PM EDT41
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Are there modern cognitive techniques for dealing with searching for information online?

Aug 10, 6:15PM EDT63

I work in a marketing department as a web developer and have been doing web development full time and as a contractor for over a decade.  There is this thing known as 'SEO' which stands for search engine optimization.  This is about using keywords in your website that are the same words people use to find your products within search engines like Google.

I am astounded at the inability of people to think of the common words that a person might use to find their products. I attribute my strength as a researcher to my ability to use common language to find things. 

I start by making a keyword list of the obvious terms I might use to find the information I need.  If a search on those terms doesn't bring up the information then I turn to an online thesaurus for other similar terms and search on those.

Often that technique brings up enough data to help me solve the issue I am working on but if not then I turn to online tools such as the Google Adwords application or the MOZ keyword Explorer.  These tools give you actual statistics of the most searched keyword for your subject.  Armed with that information you can get very indepth research on any subject.  

Aug 11, 6:31PM EDT52
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Why are there ads inside trams which ask me to use the tram?

Aug 10, 5:24PM EDT21

lol. Because there are poor marketers.  Good advertising doesn't feel like advertising at all.  Companies have an advertising budget and assigning it to poorly qualified individuals, repetition is often the only thing they can think of.  

As a digital marketer myself I feel your pain.  The Internet is filled with poor marketing strategies and other unimaginative people try to duplicate what other companies are doing without even wondering whether those techniques are effective or what the ROI will be.

I have written this article about some emerging marketing techniques that are proving to be far more successful than redundant and repetitive marketing strategies.  Let's hope the advertising world is getting smarter!

https://danieljleblanc.tumblr.com/post/163447689143/leveraging-digital-out-of-home-dooh-gorilla

Aug 11, 6:36PM EDT24

haha thanks for supporting me, such ads are so annoying.

Aug 12, 1:44AM EDT70

How does the Forgetting curve change after repeated exposure to the same item we would like to memorise?

Aug 10, 5:12PM EDT57

Repetition is key to creating a chunk of long-term memory (familiar established neural patterns in our brains).  But it is more than repetition that is required.  Our brains are very environmentally conscious.

Something you study in the privacy of your office or home may not be easily recalled later when you are in a meeting in front of your co-workers.  It takes more than repetition to truly commit something to long term memory.

I often have to memorize long presentations and speeches.  I start by using the Pomodora method where I set a time for 25 dedicated and focused study minutes.  During this time I shut off all electronic devices such as phones, computers, televisions or go to a place where there are no interruptions.

I study my speeches or presentations for 25 minute intently.  After that I follow with some relaxation such as a walk or simply sitting quietly in my chair.  Sometimes I even doze off for awhile.  I repeat this 3 times a day typically first thing in the morning, around noon and again in the later afternoon.

Cramming is completely non-productive.  Learning happens slowly and over a longer period of time.  To learn effectively you have to spread out your periods of learning over days or weeks depending on the complexity and depth of the new concept.  

Repetition is a key to long term memory but only a single aspect.  

Last edited @ Aug 12, 9:54AM EDT.
Aug 11, 6:43PM EDT24
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Does playing tapes while you're asleep help you learn?

Aug 10, 3:35PM EDT55

Playing tapes while you are trying to sleep will only make you sleep-deprived which makes it much harder to learn.  We learn when we are awake mostly.  There are some studies showing that if you think about a complex subject that you are trying to learn, just before you fall asleep, that this can help you learn the subject better.  Nothing has been proven though.  I would highly recommend you save the studying for the waking hours and get a good nights sleep. 

Aug 11, 6:01PM EDT22
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Will memorizing lists and speeches improve my memory?

Aug 10, 3:33PM EDT23

Yes!  The brain is like the other muscles in your body.  Without use it gets weak and recent studies have shown that it leaves you more susceptible to memory loss and may even be a factor in disease such as alzheimers.  

Your brain needs exercise just like the rest of your body.

Last edited @ Aug 11, 10:21PM EDT.
Aug 11, 6:44PM EDT66
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What is the relationship between topographic maps and sensory memory?

Aug 10, 3:20PM EDT0

Wow, I can tell you did some research to come up with that question.  In general I will say that we produce maps of the brain that are similar to topographical maps for various purposes.  If you want a more indepth answer then I will refer you to research articles such as these;

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2993335/

https://www.theguardian.com/science/neurophilosophy/2013/sep/03/topographic-mapping

http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X2001001200001

This is too vast a topic to discuss in a forum such as this with any great depth.  

Aug 11, 6:47PM EDT1
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