Memorizing Your Script

Just about everybody who appears in a Stubborn Old Gardeners video will need to memorize at least a couple of brief statements. Do you have what it takes?

The answer is positively, unequivocally yes. Although your finished script will contain several blocks of text, you’ll need to memorize only two or three of those blocks, the ones you’re going to say when the camera is looking at your face. So we’re usually talking about 30 seconds or less of material. And no matter how old you are, there are actors older than you in community theaters all over the world learning pages and pages of dialogue. If you can read this page, you can master the little bit you’ll need to memorize for a Stubborn Old Gardeners video. Here’s how.

After your script is final, write down the words you’re going to say. We’ve found that writing them out longhand is a great way to communicate with the part of your brain that helps you memorize. For some reason, it works better than typing the words. Because our memorized script blocks are short, this won’t take you more than five minutes. Just do it.

Now take each block in order. Begin at the beginning and say the first sentence or phrase out loud (which we’ll call a “line.”) Then look away and say that same line. Repeat until you are confident that you know the first line. Then look back at your script and say the first and second lines out loud. Look away and say the first line and second line out loud. Again, repeat until you’re confident of the first and second lines.

As soon as you have 2-3 lines learned, take a break and think about something else for a few minutes. Then come back, repeating what you’ve already learned and adding a little more each time. It helps that each time you recite, you go back to the beginning. Then take another break. Then work some more.

Keep up this simple pattern of read, repeat, add, repeat, break, until you’ve committed everything to memory. Revisit it every day or so until shooting day. This is the best and easiest way we know to make sure you are able to learn the entire script block and recite it confidently when you speak to the camera.

Now that you know how easy it is to memorize your script, let’s talk about the key objection master gardeners raise about memorizing: “I can’t (or won’t) memorize it. I’ll just talk. It’ll be more natural.” Yes, you’re right. You’ll just talk. And you may or may not remember to say everything that you needed to say about the subject. Unlike a talk you might present to an audience, this is your one chance to cover the subject completely. Almost invariably, when master gardeners choose to “just talk,” one of two bad things happens: (1) they ramble, which causes the video to run longer than it should; or (2) they forget something important they wanted to say. Sometimes both. Ouch.

The advantage of using a script as we do with Stubborn Old Gardeners is that you get to think through carefully, over a period of days, exactly what you need to say to provide an accurate and succinct explanation of the subject about which you’re teaching. When you choose to go off script and “just talk,” you increase the risk that your careful planning will be thwarted in the production process.

And remember, when you choose to go off script, you’ll eventually need to spend time conforming your script to what you actually said so our captions will be accurate. Please save yourself the trouble by just memorizing your script. Please.

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