Does this sound familiar? You’ve got a script to memorize. Your method is to do it line by line. When you’ve got the first sentence memorized, you move on to the next and commit it to memory. Then you recite sentences one and two together. When you feel like you know it, you move onto sentence three, and so on.
But you may be doing something that’s setting you back — you’re not reciting your lines out loud. You’re mumbling them, or saying them in your head, even when you’re alone.
Experienced speakers and actors memorize and rehearse their lines out loud. In fact, they read their scripts out loud, over and over again, before they begin the memorization process. While reading, they listen for opportunities to emphasize certain words or phrases, when short or long pauses would create the best effect, what gestures to use for special dramatic effect, and where they’ll move on stage.
This method is called “motor learning,” (a.k.a. “muscle memory.”) When you repeat movements and variations of voice over a period of time, they become etched into your brain and when you’re on stage the movements flow naturally.
Some people are reluctant to rehearse their scripts out loud because they’re self-conscious. They’re afraid of appearing odd to the other members of the household. Rehearsing out loud also attracts house pets. I used to be reluctant to say my lines while I was driving, too, because I didn’t want other drivers to think I was nuts.
When speaking experts reminded me of the importance of saying my lines out loud, I threw self-consciousness to the wind and let it all hang out. The family gets used to it and stops teasing you, the pets are barricaded by a closed door, and other drivers don’t even notice you. And if they did, so what?
Oh, the freedom! Being able to let go gives you the opportunity to be your true self on stage. What’s more, the memorization process becomes so much easier because the more you practice, the more the material becomes ingrained.