How to memorise lines and scripts

5 top tips for memorising lines

Most of us at some point will need to memorise lines or learn scripts. Whilst some people take to this naturally and even seem to enjoy it, others may struggle with the stress.

Whether it’s a small talk in front of a handful of colleagues, or a large presentation in front of hundreds, everyone wants to give their best performance and not let the nerves take over. One way to make this task less daunting is to prepare and make sure you know exactly what you’re saying.

Learning lines and scripts doesn’t need to be overly difficult and it doesn’t require complicated techniques. Improving memory can be simple, just try these 5 R’s…

1.     Rehearse

Memory improves with practice, and you’re not going to memorise your lines if you don’t rehearse them regularly! But this doesn’t mean reading over them in your head or mumbling them in your bedroom. Instead, you should try and replicate the environment of the presentation as much as possible so you can get used to remembering the lines in a more pressurised environment.

Rehearsing in front of family/friends and, even better, rehearsing in the room you’ll be presenting in, will help to do this. It will make your rehearsal time even more valuable and you are likely to feel less scared and more confident when it comes to giving your presentation for real.

2.     Rest

This is just as important as rehearsing, perhaps even more so! You don’t want to be going over and over your lines all day, every day because it will get to a point where it doesn’t benefit you at all.

Instead, you should break up the script into segments and work on that one bit for 20 minutes or so, and then give yourself a break. Splitting up your lines in this way will make the whole task less intimidating and it will also force you to take breaks.

Resting the brain allows it to digest the information and take in what it’s just learnt, rather than giving it information overload which won’t be as efficient.

3.     Reframe

This simply means approach your lines in a different way when you rehearse. If you go through in the same order and the same voice every time you practice, you are likely to lose concentration and so struggle to actually memorise it.

By contrast, if you make it “fun” i.e. say it in different tones or voices, your brain is more likely to latch onto that information and remember it.

However, be careful not to use these little quirks in the real presentation!

4.     Rise

Don’t just sit in one position whilst you rehearse, walk around and use hand gestures! Moving your body uses the same part of the brain as learning and memory, so movement will help engage the brain as you try to memorise your lines.

Additionally, this may be good practice for the presentation itself, as using gestures can help you to interact and engage with your audience.

5.     Record

You probably hate hearing your voice back on recordings, don’t we all? Despite this, listening to a recording is extremely helpful when it comes to memorising lines.

Recording audio will highlight whether you speak too fast/slow, and if there’s anywhere you can improve. It is also worth recording visually too, to pick up on whether you fidget or do something that may distract the audience.

Furthermore, listening/watching back your speech is another way of helping get those lines firmly into your memory. If you read, hear, and speak the lines regularly, that’s three different channels you’re giving your brain to learn from!

When is the best time to learn lines?

The 10-20 minutes before sleep are an ideal time to learn a cognitive skill (i.e. memorising lines), and you are likely to see improvements in how much you remember when you wake up. As you sleep, your brain is still working and storing the information it has learnt. Going over your lines just before bed will mean they are fresh in your mind ready to be stored!

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