How to Memorize a Long Speech or Poem

by eHow Contributor

Learning lines by heart is excellent training for the mind. Neuropsychologists (scientists who study the way the brain thinks) know that the more people memorize information, the better they get at memorizing. Whether you have to memorize a long text for community theater, for a school assignment or as a job requirement, it will be much easier if you use a tried-and-true picture clue method.

Read through the text carefully. Make sure that you understand every phrase. Make sure that the text makes sense to you as a whole.

Try to recite as much of the text as you can without stumbling. When you are unsure of a word, look at the passage and think about what images you associate with the words you are having trouble with. On a small part of a sheet of paper, draw a picture of the image that comes to mind. Leave room on the paper for lots of other images.

Recite the text again, using your drawing as a prompt to help you when you falter.

Read the next sentence. Then attempt to recite it from memory. If you get stuck, brainstorm until you think of an image that reminds you of the word or phrase that is giving you difficulty. Add that image to your paper. Then recite the text again, using the images on your paper as prompts. Add another sentence. Repeat the process until you have created picture clues for the entire text.

Work on using the picture prompts to recite the whole passage. When you can recite the text easily from memory using your picture clues, try covering up the page to attempt to recite it from memory.

Try to remember the picture clue that you developed for a particular passage whenever you have trouble. Many people are surprised to find that they can remember the picture clue when they can't remember the word that goes with it. Once you bring to mind the clue, you remind yourself why you selected that clue, which will help you to find the word you need. It sounds like a lot of work, but it makes memorization of even the driest, most abstract texts much easier.

Things You Will Need

  • Markers or colored pencils


  • Some people use the pictures like hieroglyphs, drawing them from left to right in rows. They "read" the read the images like words on a page.
  • If you have a lot of trouble with a certain word or phrase, color the picture clue with outrageous colors, or change the picture clue. Make the picture clue as silly or outlandish as possible. You can also write a keyword over a picture clue. Whichever method you use, you will eventually be able to wean yourself off of the picture clues.

Photo Credits

  • Images