Memorize Lines

Memorizing lines can be daunting. You may feel like you'll never be able to memorize your lines without getting flustered or just completely forgetting what you have to say. But don't worry -- as long as you relax and follow a few common memorization methods, you'll have those lines down in no time. Choose the approach that you consider best suits your preferred style of learning and remembering.


Understanding and repetition

Understanding the material

  1. Read all of your material. Before you begin to memorize your lines, you should read all of your material and have a firm grasp of what the play, speech, or presentation means. Take the time to read it alone in a quiet place and read it aloud if necessary.
    • If you really want to improve your memorization, read it more than once.
  2. Reflect on your material. Once you've read it, you can think about what it really means. Instead of just memorizing it, you should understand the meaning and purpose behind your lines, whether it's to motivate workers during a presentation or to deliver a passionate monologue during a play.
    • If you're in a play, understand the motivations of your character. This will help you get a better sense of what they would or would not say.
    • If your play, presentation, or speech involves others, then reflect on their lines as well. How does your character or presentation relate to what others have to say? Understanding what others say will give you a better sense of when your own character will speak.
  3. Write down your lines. Once you've read and reflected on your materials, you can write down your lines. If you're memorizing lines from a long play, you can just focus on the longer monologues. Whatever you do, know that writing down your lines will help you process the material much faster and will make you feel more in touch with the lines. They won't feel like just any words on a page, but like your own words.
    • Remember to focus on the words while you're writing them down. Don't just write them down while watching TV or listening to music. Really take the time to absorb everything you're writing down.

Beginning to memorize your lines

  1. Move around as you memorize. You will memorize your lines much faster if you move around, gesture, and show emotion as you say them. Don't just say the words, but mimic the movements you'll be making when you actually deliver the words. This will help your whole body understand the lines better.[1]
    • Even if you're not gesturing, just try pacing back and forth as you recite the lines. This will still be a big help.
  2. Pay attention to others. If there are other cast-members in your play or other people involved in your presentation, pay close attention to what they have to say. Don't just wait for their monologues or statements to be over so you can jump into yours. Instead, get a deep understanding of what they're saying so you know how their words relate to your own.
    • Try to have a strong sense of all of their lines if you don't flat-out memorize them. Remember that the other people involved may need your help remembering their lines on the big day.
  3. Use word tricks. If you're stuck memorizing your lines, try a variety of words tricks to help you fully absorb the lines. Here are some word tricks to try:
    • Use rhymes to help you remember the right words in a sentence.
    • Use visualization. Visualize the words you will say and what message they will convey, and they will come to you.
    • Try acronyms to remember your lines.
  4. Take it one chunk at a time. You don't have to memorize your lines from start to finish if you have a long chunk of lines, or an entire play's worth of lines, to memorize. Instead, you should break down your lines into manageable parts so that you have a grasp of all of the lines eventually.
    • Work on memorizing the lines from the beginning of the speech first. Once you have those down, move on to the middle while incorporating the beginning. See how far you can go without forgetting something. Once you have the beginning and middle down, move on to the end.
    • If you're in a play, you can work on all of your monologues first, and then work on your interactions with one character, and then another.
    • Don't try to memorize too much at once. Work in small manageable chunks and you'll be much less likely to get frustrated.

Perfecting your technique

  1. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Once you feel very comfortable with your lines, you should take the opportunity to applaud yourself, but don't stop practicing. You should still repeat your lines as much as possible until they feel like second nature to you. You should keep repeating your lines until the day you have to deliver them, or you may forget them by the big day.[2]
    • Repeat your lines when you get up in the morning and as you get ready for bed.
    • Repeat your lines in the car.
    • If you're working on a play, repeat your lines with a cast-mate.
    • If you have a patient friend or family member, ask if you can repeat your lines to him or her from time to time.
  2. Record your lines. You should make a recording of your lines and keep it on hand all the time. For one thing, sitting down to record all of your lines will help you memorize them even more. If you're memorizing for a play, then you can record the lines of the entire play, so that you know when it's your turn to speak. You can play this recording at any time to maximize the amount of time you spend memorizing your lines.
    • Play the recording whenever you can. Play it as you get ready in the morning, while you're doing chores like folding laundry, or even when you're working out or just going for a walk.
    • You can also play the recording in your car.
  3. Relax. This is an important point. You should relax while you're memorizing your lines and before you have to deliver the lines. If you don't relax, then you'll be more likely to forget your lines in the middle of a rehearsal or even on the big day.
    • Just keep telling yourself that it's no big deal. If you make a mistake, you'll be able to recover gracefully, and it won't be the end of the world if you don't remember every last word.
  4. Learn to adjust. If you know how to improvise, you will be much less worried about memorizing your lines. Improvising is a great way to keep people from even knowing that you've forgotten your lines. The important thing is not to leave any time for silence or confusion. Whether you're alone on stage or a part of a play, everyone should always look like they know what's going on even if they don't.
    • As long as you're comfortable with your character or your role, you'll be able to say something similar to what you were supposed to say.
    • Remember that you're not the only one who can mess up. If you're in a play, one of the other characters may also make a mistake, so you should be comfortable enough with everybody's lines so you can wing it if need be.

Using meaning as a prompt

  1. Read through your piece several times, be it a speech, monologue, or simply just a little saying, as this can help you to get a clue of what the speech/monologue is about.
  2. Find the meaning in your text. Without meaning, the text will be just that, random text that means nothing.
  3. Little by little. Read about one paragraph or section. Then try to see if you can add movement to it.
  4. Repeat step 3 a few times before moving on.
  5. Once you are sure you can remember something from the paragraph, try saying it with the movement, but without the text itself - to test your memory.
  6. Keep doing these steps for each little paragraph or section or the text, and you will eventually remember each line, and movement, as if it were second nature.

Visual memorization

  1. Understand that visual memory is not something you are born with. Rather, it is a technique or skill that can be learned by anyone, and is one of the oldest memory techniques in the world. One ancient technique is called a "Memory Palace". The idea is that you build a giant palace in your mind, with a special place for everything, and when you want to save a memory for later recall, you visualize yourself in the palace, putting the memory in the appropriate room. Then all you have to do later, is remember where you put it, go get it and see it with the mind's eye.
  2. Break the text into smaller pieces. Sort it by idea.
  3. Number each section, and associate the idea to the number. For instance, if memorizing the Gettysburg Address, the first section ("Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.") refers to time, place and cause, so you could remember "section number 1 = when, where and why.
  4. Color code each section. Use the colors of the rainbow in the standard order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, or ROY G BIV for short.
  5. When reading, look at the page. So the words, letters and punctuation as shapes, as well as words letters and punctuation. Now try to remember the spacial relationship between words. Remember that the word "baseball" is to the left of the word "commissioner".
  6. Make a mental, and visual connection between the last phrase of one section and the first phrase of the next. Think of this as a bigger version of step 4. This way, when reciting the Gettysburg Address, you can remember that the first section ends "the proposition that all men are created equal" and that is connected to the first part of the next section, that goes "Now we are engaged in a great civil war."
  7. Finally, when reciting the memorized text, try to remember what the page looks like. See the sections broken out, see their numbers and colors. See what words are next to each other. Even try to see the font it is printed in. The idea being, if you can really see the text in your mind's eye, you can actually read it off of the page in your head.


  • It's a good idea to take 10 minute breaks in between paragraphs, or sections that you choose yourself. If you do it all at once, the chances of you memorizing the whole thing are slim to none.
  • Read your lines over and over. Then try to say them without looking at your paper or script.
  • Try reading as much as you can.Then ask someone to test you.
  • Say your lines while doing everyday things, like walking the dog, eating (say it in your head), etc.
  • Have someone in your family read the script to you. Have them say the line before yours and see if you can remember your line.
  • Practice in a mirror for the best of all help! It will help you understand how you should speak towards a group without wondering what they will think of you. Practice in the mirror until your satisfied, but don't just mess around, this is serious business!
  • It is important to (if you can) have someone help you by reading some of the surrounding parts of your lines. If they will, let them do some of your parts and you do the surrounding lines so that you can see what to listen for when your part comes.
  • If you have a lot of lines to memorize, and have a while to memorize them, do it over a couple of days.
  • Record your lines onto a tape player, and listen to them in your sleep. Your lines will float into your subconscious and, more likely than not, you will memorize them faster.
  • Try memorizing your lines on an empty stomach. Your mind will process the lines easier that way.
  • If you try an alternate method, don't keep rehearsing and memorizing too much, as it will just make you forget due to the amount of pressure you would be putting yourself under. Take your time, and soon enough, you'll remember each and every line and movement there is to it.
  • Make sure you have good rate (how fast or slow you say things): you don't want your words to be jumbled up together.
  • If you're in a play, try to get a part you're able to do - don't overdo it. Try get a bigger part every time, but just don't get a part you're not capable of doing.
  • If you are learning lines from a movie, watch the real actor saying the line. Listen carefully to the tone, accent and inflection. Copying these can help you to remember the lines more easily.
  • Read through all together as a cast, you should probably use props or motions for the rehearsal.

Related Articles

Sources and Citations

You may like