Stacking, or the process of building a memory stack, is a memory recall technique useful for remembering a list of items, particularly an ordered list, though it works better than pegging does for unordered lists.
To build a memory stack, one "visualizes" the items in a gigantic, colorful, and "smooshed together" fashion. I say put quotes around visualizes because the aim is to make one's mental perception of the stack notable. To do this, one does not just build a picture in one's mind's eye, but also repeats the words of the stack and adds gestures to go along with the parts of the stack. Also, it is often helpful to place oneself in the stack to give it personal meaning.
For instance, if for some reason you needed to remember milk, eggs, 1 lb. of ground beef, and rubber gloves, and were learning memory stacking to do it:
- First off, you'd visualize a giant milk carton. You'd then ask yourself questions to fix the image in your mind. How big is it? What color? Does it have condensation on it? Then, as you answer the questions out loud, you would be gesturing to indicate your answers.
- Then you'd visualize eggs balanced atop the milk carton. Are they uncooked or cooked? Are they intact or broken? White eggs, brown eggs, easter eggs, or something else yet?
- Next, on the eggs, you see something that reminds you of one pound of ground beef. How about a dog pound, made of dirt and full of cows? How big? How is the building shaped? What do the cows look like?
- After that, how about having a giant rubber glove grab the pound? What color? Since rubber glove tends to be a general term, what's it made out of? Left or right handed?
Another example: (visualize this colorfully while gesturing to describe to get the idea of how it was taught)
Imagine a whole bunch of delicate dinnerware. Shooting up through it you see an immense #2 pencil. Impaled on the pencil is a Jersey Cow. Holding onto the cow for dear life is King George. He has a cut on his forehead, and a band-aid connecting the cut. On the bandaid, he has a huge (armful) mass of ice. Sitting on the ice, freezing, is Marilyn Monroe. In her lap is the Love Boat, going south. In the pool of the Love Boat is a bunch of hams. The hams, incidentally, are wrapped in sheet music titled "Carry me back to Old Virginia". Shooting up from the hams is the Empire State Building. Balanced atop the Empire State Building is another Love Boat, going North. Grabbing the back rail of the love boat, holding on for dear life, is a Rhode Island Red Hen.
What was that? That was the original 13 Colonies that made up the United States, in the order that they signed the Constitution.
This writeup reprocessed from Dale Carnegie Training, as people are unlikely to stumble across this technique there.