How to have a memory like Derren Brown

 “Linking” is a popular and effective way of remembering large amounts of information which is placed in your long term memory – a technique famously used by Derren Brown.

Ever wondered how Derren Brown remembers the names of his volunteers in one clean sweep let alone the masses of information he memorises and showcases in his shows?  Well I can’t guarantee that after reading this you will possess his super powers, but I can assure you that you will be able to learn a large amount of information in just minutes.

Linking is the name of the technique Derren Brown often uses and talks about and is a great memory recall method that not only enables you to remember information in the short term, but also allows you to place the information in your long term memory.

The best way to get started is to try memorising a list of 15 random words.  Don’t cheat.  Give yourself 2 minutes to remember the following words and see how many you can remember at the end.  Next I will show you how to remember them all…


1.  Window

2.  Phone

3.  Gold

4.  Germany

5.  Kaleidoscope

6.  Mouse

7.  Smoke

8.  Jewellery

9.  Pillow

10.  Dust

11.  Portrait

12.  Stage

13.  Trousers

14.  Cow

15.  Cupboard

How many did you manage?  Maybe 7?  Well let me show you how to remember them all.

The linking method works by creating a story which links all the words to one another.  But no ordinary story.  You need to compose the most abstract and unrealistic story possible, vision it, feel it – this way you will actually remember it.  If I told you that I have a dog you may not remember that in a year’s time.  But if I showed you my dog that can chant nursery rhymes, you would remember it forever.

So let’s link these words through our story…

We have a window, but no ordinary window.  Instead it is one which is made of glass in the shape of a phone.  I want you to really visualise this, because all of a sudden out of the speaker end of the phone we see streams of gold nuggets shoot out.  Loads of them.  You realise how rich you suddenly are going to be.  You have so much gold that you have decided that you will use it to buy Germany.  So you use your magic kaleidoscope and transport yourself straight to Germany.  As you arrive at the airport you are greeted by a large human sized mouse.  This is no ordinary mouse, it is a smoking one, and with a cigarette in its mouth it offers you jewellery as a ‘welcome to Germany’ present.  A little bemused you decide that you need a lie down so you take your travel pillow out of your pocket and lie down on the floor of the airport for a nap.  But as you lay your head down you realise that the floor is thick with dust and your head is sinking in the dust.  Realising this isn’t perhaps the best form of relaxation, you spot an artist working outside the airport and make your excuses to the mouse and leave to sit down for a portrait by the artist.  Before you know it, a stage rises from the floor and you have an audience watching your portrait getting made.  You realise that you are being watched by millions and decide that instead of your underwear it may be a good idea to get some trousers on.  But unfortunately the only trousers you brought to Germany was the ones with large cows printed on it, you wear it anyway much to the amusement of the crowd.  You become shy because of all the attention so you crawl off the stage and hide in the cupboard the door for which is being held open by the knowing smoking mouse.

If this story doesn’t work for you, use the words to create your own.  It should take no longer than a couple of minutes to come up with the story.  Once you have composed it in your mind, recall it, and just extract the words as you get to them in your story.


Try extending the technique to more and more words and then apply to different situations which require you to memorise large amounts of information – or simply save it as a unique party trick!


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