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Innovation Insights
by Stephen Shapiro

John C. McGinley on Memorizing Scripts

John C. McGinley, best known for his role as Dr. Cox on “Scrubs” was interviewed on The Opie and Anthony Show.

He was asked how he memorizes a script. He gave three steps:

  1. He writes the entire script by hand. This helps cement the words in his head.
  2. In the column, he writes down the “verb” describing his action for that point of the script, such as smirk, listen, assimilate, etc. This allows him to quickly recall the mindset needed at any given moment.
  3. Once he has the script memorized, he reads the script while juggling (yes, with balls). It serves three purposes. It further implants the words in his brain. It helps him identify parts of the script that are not working (when he drops the ball at a particular point, it is usually because the words are not flowing). And it helps him be better prepared for distractions on the set.

John is an incredible actor, and has been in nearly 100 movies/TV shows. There is a lot to be learned from someone with so much experience.

As a professional speaker, I’ve done #1 many times. But I’ve never tried #2 and never considered #3.

The next time I struggle with the flow of a particular part of my speech, I will pick up the juggling balls and give it a try. How about you?