The #1 mistake that actors make with monologues?
They forget that it’s still a conversation; meaning they lose the listening component.
Whenever we talk, it’s because we want something from the person we’re talking to. Even when we’re the only person talking, we’re always checking in with who we’re talking to and listening to their cues around how they’re receiving what we’re saying. This is true for the characters we play too— even when they’re alone on stage and that “person” is the audience.
If actors lose that link— that want or need to be heard and that listening that goes along with it— then the relationship is gone. The dynamic that makes human drama interesting to watch is gone.
Actors tend to lose that link if they turn the focus too inward and only think about their own experience while speaking— like how they feel. If that’s the only focus, then the lines are no longer in response to that need and that relationship. This is where monologues tend to go flat, or fall on one note, or get pushed— because they are no longer in response to the other person— so the actor is having to try to make something happen to make up for that loss of relationship.
It can be much easier! If you find your monologues are falling flat, or are always on one-note, or feel emotionally pushed— ask yourself: Am I listening enough? Am I listening enough as I’m talking to who I’m talking to, and can I make my monologue about what I want from them, rather than just my own experience? (This is going to require imagination if there isn’t actually someone there— you’ll have to imagine the responses you’re getting.)
Once you start listening, it will probably become easier to actually have an experience as you’re speaking these words— and it will be an experience that will be much more interesting to watch because it will be about relationship. We like to watch the relationship— that’s what makes the drama juicy.