Are Quotations in Your Speaking “Quiver?”
“A fine quotation is a diamond in the hand of a man of wit and a pebble in the hand of a fool.” – Joseph Roux
The Armed Forces of the United States are charged with preparing for, fighting and winning America’s wars. To do this, they have an array of land, sea, and air forces that combine in an integrated battle force to take the war to the enemy to defend our great nation, the United States.
Although you may not have ever thought speaking to an audience as a war, it can be likened to a war with enemies. The enemies the speaker is fighting are an unclear presentation purpose, a bored audience, and a vague presentation roadmap just to mention a few.
The leaders of the Armed Forces of the United States would never think of fighting a war without the necessary forces being created, trained, and applied in integrated land, sea, and air warfare.
Speakers should have a “quiver” full of the right kind of arrows to defeat the enemies of a great presentation?
One arrow used to defeat your speaking enemies is to cite relevant quotes in your presentation opening, body, and closing.
Using Quotations in Your Presentation Opening
People remember beginnings and endings. Your audience remembers mostly your presentation openings and closings. A startling quotation can grab the audience at the beginning of your presentation and set the stage for what is to come.
For instance, if your presentation is about persistence in the face of enormous adversity you might want to use the following quote from Winston Churchill to the English Parliament House of Commons on 4 June 1940 right after the successful evacuation of 338,000 Allied troops from Dunkirk, France.
“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
You may want to use part of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address from 19 November 1863 if you want to motivate your audience to never give up. You could use the following excerpt for this purpose:
“ . . . we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Using quotes in your opening is a great way to grab your audience’s attention. You can also use quotes in your presentation’s body to sustain your audience’s interest.
Using Quotations in Your Presentation Body
Humorous quotes are a great way to sustain audience interest and entertain them. A laughing audience is a listening audience
If your presentation’s purpose is to show people how to control their fear of speaking, the quote below from Jerry Seinfeld might do the trick of sustaining audience interest:
“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
Or you might quote that world famous philosopher Lucy of Peanuts fame giving advice to Charlie Brown concerning speaking in public:
“I have three hints for becoming a good speaker, Charlie Brown. You must know when to standup, when to speak up, and when to shut up.”
Humorous quotes loosen up your audience. People who are laughing are also learning.
Remember, audiences remember beginnings and endings. So, make sure your closing quote is a thought provoker!
Using Quotations in Your Presentation Closing
Say your speech is about motivation. You want to leave your audience with a poignant thought on motivation. What quote should you pick? You might want to choose the one below by Michael Jordan:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
Or how about the below quote from William W. Purkey on motivation:
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.”
These motivational quotes are sure to inspire your audience!
So, stock your speaking “quiver” with topic-relevant quotation “arrows.” They grab your audience’s interest in your presentation opening, maintain it in your presentation’s body, and, in your closing, leave your audience with a powerful final thought for them to ponder beyond your presentation.
Call to Action
Use a quote in your presentation’s opening to grab your audience’s attention and interest
Use quotes in your presentation’s body to sustain audience interest in your topic
Use a quote in your presentation’s closing to truly inspire your audience and have them thinking well beyond your presentation’s ending
“It is often not the words but the message behind the words that makes a quote so meaningful. Even the shortest of quotations can convey the most powerful of messages, provide meaningful perspective, and impart hard-won wisdom.”– Paul Ayoub; Lizzie Ayoub, “Inspire Me!”
DiBartolomeo Consulting International’s (DCI) mission is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence.
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