How to Use Public Speaking Quotes

Using quotations during public speaking assignments is an excellent way to improve your credibility and capture the attention and trust of your audience. Whether used as an effective way to introduce or end a speech, lend support to your arguments, or just to make your audience laugh, public speaking quotes are one of the great secret weapons of any experienced presenter.

The sky is the limit when it comes to using quotes. You can quote a specific thing someone has said or written, or you can quote a story about someone or something. You can even quote something you yourself have done, said or written, or tell a story that recounts your own personal experience.

Presuming you want to quote other people, where do you find suitable quotes that you can use for public speaking assignments?

If you do a search in Google on the Internet you will find millions of resources with billions of quotations. The important thing though is that the quote should mean something to you and should be relevant to whatever it is you are talking about. So narrow your search to make it relevant to your speech. For example, if you are going to be talking to your sales staff about newly implemented sales targets, you might do a search for quotes + salesmen + winners. Or you could search for success stories in your particular field of business. Look for someone who has excelled in the field, and then search for quotes + that person’s name.

Alternatively, find books that cover the topic you are going to talk about. Not only will you increase your knowledge of the subject, but you are also very likely to find some little gems that you can quote.

You can, of course, look for specific quotes when you are compiling a speech, but if you do – or plan to do – quite a lot of public speaking, why not start your own collection of quotes?

When you read something you like, write it down. If someone says something that appeals to you, write it down. Also remember to write down the name of the original author or person that said what you liked. Of course, it is common decency to acknowledge where sayings and stories come from. But what’s more, very often when you quote someone else in your speech–particularly someone perceived as an authority by your audience — you subconsciously elevate your own authority in their minds, by linking your words with those of a famous or respected figure.

When you get to the point of using a quote, make sure that you do not misquote anyone. While reading a speech is not recommended, it is a good idea to write down quotes, so you can glance at them and make sure that you get them right.

Finally, remember that using quotes in your speech is simply another support to get your message across. The clearer you are about what you want to say, and the more enthusiasm you have for it, the more your words — or the words of others that you borrow — will penetrate the minds of your listeners. As John Ford astutely observed, “You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.”

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Tim Ackerman is an author and public speaking enthusiast whose mission is to help people enrich their lives through more skillful communication. Check out his website at for more info on using public speaking quotes, and a FREE email mini-course on effective public speaking.

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