How To Improve Your Memory To Be A Good Actor – Practical Guide

learn how to improve your memory as an actor

As an actor in a movie, TV series, or commercial, you need to have a good memory to memorize the lines requested by the director mostly on shooting day on set and if you don’t have the skill of a quick memorizer then you will be put under big pressure as the few minutes the director gave you to memorize are close to ending, but having a role in a play is totally different because you will be having the full script and all the play’s dialogues which you need to practice for days with other actors so eventually you will memorize them all along with your performance and other stuff like cues, and stage position..etc

How To Know If I have A Good Or Bad Memory?

There is no such thing as a good or bad memory, those terms are common but they are not correct neither physically nor logically because memory is not a physical sector in your brain but a kind of mind operation, and the mind can be trained to have better performance in all terms including its memory.

What Are The Types Of Memory?

There are two types of memory:

  1. Visual Memory.
  2. Verbal Memory.

Visual memory is based on remembering the visuals that are related to certain words a human is focusing on.

Verbal memory is based on words you are reading in a book or hearing while listening to the news or talking to someone.

NOTE: It has been proved scientifically that Visual memory is significantly more effective than verbal memory, the reason is brain memorizes visual photos quicker than plain words, the brain can memorize 5 to 7 words while it can reach up to 12 words if comprehending visually with related images.

How Does Our Memory Work?

To improve your memory as an actor you need to understand how memory works first, so how does memory work? Memory or memorization works in a process of 3 steps:

  1. Record
  2. Retain
  3. Retrieve

Based on these steps you can memorize anything effectively by intentionally or consciously building connections using some specific memory techniques that are used by many professional actors.

So, to use the more practical process that explains practically the 3 steps process of remembering stuff you read, you should look at it from a 5 steps perspective as shown below in order to improve your memory.

How To Improve Your Memory To Be A Good Actor

There are a couple of methods that help you memorize an acting monologue or any acting scene lines quickly on set so I separated them into two main categories:

How To Memorize Short Or Moderate Acting Script Lines

Attention: Is your first method and the most successful one to easily remember your monologue or a dialogue Especially when the script is short or moderate, by basically understanding the meaning of what you’re reading in the scene you are about to act in, and what your character’s role is doing in the scene supposed to be something meaningful to you, for example, the below monologue is taken from Rocky Balboa movie:

Rocky Balboa Speech

I’d hold you up to say to your mother, “this kid’s gonna be the best kid in the world. This kid’s gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew.” And you grew up good and wonderful. It was great just watching you, every day was like a privilege. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did.

If you want to memorize these monologue lines easily using the attention method, you simply:

  • Read it once or twice carefully and understand the situation of Rocky (which is your role in the act) and what is he talking about to his son, what message he wants his son to understand in that particular scene.
  • And try to be in Rocky’s character’s shoes.
  • Stop reading the lines and focus on the message itself and what Rocky wants to deliver to his son, and try to say it in your own way.
  • Look back and read the lines and try to see what you missed from his message, I guarantee you will discover that most of those lines you have said it already while delivering the same meaning even with little modification. (try this once or twice and you should remember it perfectly)

You can apply this method to any script you have been given but the difference is you need to understand also the feelings associated with that particular act so you deliver it in the right order.

How To Memorize Long Or Complex Acting Script Lines

If you happen to have a long-acting script first thing you need to do is to separate the long script into pieces and then follow the below steps:

  1. Attention
  2. Visualization
  3. Organization
  4. Association

Attention: This is where I explained above in the previous point “how to memorize a short or moderate acting script lines” this method also applies to any type of script regardless of its length, but you also may consider understanding and applying the other methods below.

Visualization: While reading each paragraph of your acting script always use your imagination to imagine the whole scene, location, what is happening while the dialogue is being said according to the script you are reading especially when there is an action during a conversation like two actors walking together and talking or swimming or driving a car while they see the third actor in the way you should use your imagination to live within the scene in your mind, in this case, it will stick in your mind from the first time you are reading it.

NOTE: Remember, the visual story is easier to memorize especially when the story or the meaning of the script sequence is logical.

Organization: Read the whole script in a quick manner with focus, try to organize the bunch of lines into a meaningful organization in your mind for example in Rocky monologue lines have two paragraphs as shown below:

I’d hold you up to say to your mother, “this kid’s gonna be the best kid in the world. This kid’s gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew.” And you grew up good and wonderful. It was great just watching you, every day was like a privilege. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did.

But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow.

If you want to memorize these monologue paragraphs easily using the organization method, you simply:

  • Read the whole paragraphs in a quick manner with focus.
  • Name the first paragraph in your mind as “believing in his son”, as the first sentence Rocky was trying to convince his son that he believes in him.
  • Name the second paragraph in your mind as “blaming his son”, as obviously, he was blaming his son for how he has changed over time.

In this case, it’s easy to organize all script paragraphs by naming them in your mind with meaningful names linked to what they intend to mean.

Association: No matter how many acting script paragraphs or dialogues you are trying to memorize as long as you associate each paragraph with the previous one logically, for instance after reading Rocky’s statements above its obviously logical when he wants to blame his son for something he starts with praising him first in order to get his attention and to accept of what he is trying to blame him for.

So associating paragraphs ascendingly and linking them logically should definitely put the whole big picture in your mind and accordingly will fix the meaningful content of each paragraph into your memory.

NOTE: If you practice these methods you will gain professional memorizing skills just like any professional actor in the field and you will eventually find yourself able to memorize any dialogue or script no matter how long it is within minutes on set, memory is more of a skill than a natural ability once you learn proper memory techniques you are good to go.

22 Natural Practices That Enhance Your Memory

The below practices will not replace the above practical techniques but if you can make the below points daily habits you will expedite your memory skills dramatically over time because those practices will not enhance the memory directly but will definitely improve your brain health that accordingly enhance your memory.

  1. Eat less added sugar.
  2. Take a fish oil supplement.
  3. Make time for meditation.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Sleep well and enough.
  6. Drink coffee to improve your memory consolidation.
  7. Practice mindfulness.
  8. Eat berries for better long-term memory.
  9. Drink less alcohol.
  10. Keep stress out.
  11. Have a laugh.
  12. Train your brain.
  13. Cut down on refined carbs (like junk food).
  14. Get your vitamin D levels tested & take vitamin D supplements if needed.
  15. Exercise more and be healthy.
  16. Choose anti-inflammatory foods.
  17. Consider curcumin (turmeric) in your food.
  18. Add some cocoa to your diet (dark chocolate).
  19. Give your brain a workout (by practicing the above previous memorization methods).
  20. Make time for friends.
  21. Eat a brain-boosting diet (Mediterranean diet).
  22. Chew gum to make stronger memories (chew gum while memorizing things).


Memory is more of a skill than a natural ability, anyone can improve his or her memorization by practicing certain methods over and over again which will lead to enhancing your memory naturally.


Firas Sameer, a movie director with several video productions for cinemas, festivals, TV commercials.. etc with several international awards and recognitions for his work.

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