When I’m training I get two types of people – Creative and the not so creative. About half the people I train are not on the creative side. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that I need to focus on different strategies to attend to their needs, rather than play the strengths of the creative.
One of the greatest things I’ve come across in my twelve years as a memory trainer is ‘SMASHIN SCOPE’ by Tony Buzan (Creator of Mind Mapping). SMASHIN SCOPE is an acronym created by the brilliant Vanda North, which outlines how we can use our brain to greatly enhance our visual perception of it. These principles help us to not only remember better, but become a more creative and lateral thinker.
12 creativity tips for the non-creative type
- Synaesthesia – Refers to the use of our senses. Generally when we picture something it is a static image. For example if I said ‘whiteboard’, most people will have a visual image of a whiteboard not doing much. Either on a wall or those moveable ones. Instead of just ‘seeing’ the image, by using our senses we can become further engaged and involved with our subject. E.g. smelling, touching, licking, and hearing the sound the whiteboard makes. Maybe as you’re licking it
- Movement – Remember the static visual image? Well movement makes that image dynamic. Going back to our whiteboard example, we can now visualise it spinning around, moving from side to side, or even growing some legs and walking out of the room. Think animation. (Yes we can create stuff that doesn’t make sense. More on this later)
- Association – Without association there is no connection. If there is no connection then there is no memory. If you visualise a pen next to paper, then this is weak association. But if you saw that the pen wrote on the paper, then this would be better. However, to make it exciting and memorable we can have the pen scribbling on the paper and ripping it to shreds. Oh yeh. Now that’s association.
- Sexuality – Tony Buzan says we all have a good memory in this area so let’s use it. Although when I’m working with kids, I tell them to visualise themselves as the subject. For example imagine being the actual whiteboard. How does it feel to have people write on your face all day? Do you get a kick out of it or are you stuck and want to be free?
- Humour – The emotion of something funny can grow your visual senses greatly. This doesn’t mean try and be the funniest person out there that will impress others. It means what is funny to you. For example if I meet a person by the name of John for example, I immediately picture that person sitting on a toilet. To me that’s funny. To others, it may not be. This explains why comedians, just like my friend Nazeem Hussain from Legally Brown, are generally super creative beings. (Seriously check out Nazeem, he is a gun!)
- Imagination – When we visualise and think of things it is generally in the realm of this world. However if we want to have a great memory and become more creative, we need to step outside this realm. Instead of just imagining sitting on a chair, how about the chair turning around, jumping and then sitting on you? That doesn’t happen every day, however your brain sees it quite clearly since it isn’t a normal occurrence and a stronger mental image is created. Imagination is your friend that can take you to places and see things you have never seen or experienced before. As Victor Hugo so nicely put it – “Imagination is intelligence with an erection.”
- Numbers – Sometimes we need a bit of order in our visualisations. Numbers can create that order and provide some much needed love for the left-brained type. Try and add some numbers that mean something to you to an image and see what happens.
- Symbolism – As they say, a picture is a thousand words. Using symbols to represent a bunch of words greatly assists with accessing the information quicker. It also helps with communication of a particular message. For example, what would happen if street signs were written in sentences as you’re driving? That’s right you wouldn’t have time to read them as another sign with text would come up, and so on. Bang you’ve crashed! Have images on the signs and voila! Your brain processes it much quicker. This is incidentally how speed reading works, by reading in images, not words.
- Colour – Creativity loves colour. Moreover, used well, colours can help you think and remember very quickly. For example, instead of visualising a bright red tomato, you can see it as a bright blue tomato. Yummo.
- Order – Creating a sequence of events or stories allows our brain to follow a visual pattern which enables us to remember. The creation of these patterns and sequences build creativity and assist us to group things or store them in secure storage compartments in our brain. An example would be to use the Method of Loci technique, or simply to make a story connecting random objects together.
- Positive Images – Happy happy joy joy images are great. They make you feel all cosy inside and yes it helps you remember. However negative images also help you remember. So when visualising, you can do either. The tomato was so tasty so I ate it. The tomato was rotten, so I threw it and it hit the bald man right on top of his head.
- Exaggeration – Making things large as life, seeing them massive brings a different dimension. Your mind now has a hi-definition view of what you are thinking of and can remember it. Can you picture a 10 foot tall kebab down the road with garlic sauce dripping down the sides and people running up to it from all directions with absolute joy?
Tansel Ali is a 4-time Australian Memory Champion most famously known for memorizing two Yellow Pages phone books in only 24 days. An international bestselling author of the books, ‘The Yellow Elephant’ and ‘How to Learn Almost Anything In 48 Hours’, Tansel is a sought-after memory expert, keynote speaker and memory coach.