Steal This Tip! #3: To Use or Not to Use Punctuation in Presentations

Posted by Nick Verina
February 12, 2015

by Nick Verina

nick-verina-1As an actor, you hear of many techniques performers use to bring their own personal stamp to their performance.  Some people look towards punctuation in the writing.  Let me explain…


While studying Shakespeare, actors are told that punctuation is key to performance. We must pay close attention to the periods, commas, ellipses, etc.  If Shakespeare placed a period at the end of a sentence, pause.  If he placed a comma, pause.  If he used alliteration, then be sure to enunciate every consonant as to highlight the importance of that sentence.  After all, Shakespeare knew what he was doing.


These same ideas used to perform Shakespeare can be applied to your presentation skills. When you write out your content, pay close attention to where you have placed periods, commas, exclamation points and use them. Use the periods and commas as a reminder to take a pause and breathe, use the exclamation points to elicit emotion from your audience. Practice this every time you talk through your presentation and you will build those pauses into your muscle memory. The pauses and reminders of "attitude" will help your audience digest what you're saying and move them to take the desired action of choice.

The opposite of this would be what I like to call, "The Christopher Walken Method." Christopher Walken presentation-skills-3has stated in interviews that when he is given a script, the first thing he does is eliminate the punctuation. He believes that this can be limiting to him and may stifle his "personal stamp."


So, the next time you are asked to give a presentation using someone else's words, maybe try "The Christopher Walken Method."  Put your own spin on it.  Adding pauses where you see fit, putting passion behind words that are important to you, and become your own Walken!  By no means am I saying do your best Christopher Walken impersonation; instead be your best you the next time you stand up and present.


So Walken or Shakespeare?  Whatever you choose, make it work for you!


What does punctuation mean to you? Let us know in the comments!

Hey, we bet you'd like to improve your presentation skills with more secrets that actors know. Give these a try: 

Creative Presentation Ideas


presentation skills training



Ringing Phone

Looking for help?