6 quotations to inspire public speakers

Aristotle, Winston Churchill, Maya Angelou and a few others of note have words of wisdom to charge up your next presentation.

Sometimes public speakers need inspiration—rather than additional instruction—to deliver a powerful presentation.

If you need a quick burst of inspiration, great quotations are high-octane fuel for your inner fire. Quotations pack a lot of meaning into compact statements that are simple to comprehend.

They also help when you need to give yourself a pep talk to improve your presence and increase your influence as a presenter.

To inspire you, here are six quotations that can help you become a stronger public speaker:

No. 1: Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life. —Mary Kay Ash

The takeaway: To be a stronger public speaker, focus on your audience and relate to their interests, needs and desires. Personalize your presentation for your audience, and they will be more likely to share your enthusiasm for the message.

No. 2: I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ―Maya Angelou

The takeaway: To make your audience feel something during your presentation, don’t drone on about facts and statistics. Sharing meaningful personal stories is the easiest, most effective way to make your presentation resonate with your audience long after the talk is over.

No. 3: It is this simplicity that makes the uneducated more effective than the educated when addressing popular audiences—makes them, as the poets tell us, “charm the crowd’s ears more finely.” Educated men lay down broad general principles; uneducated men argue from common knowledge and draw obvious conclusions. ―Aristotle

The takeaway: Be conversational in your presentation. Replace jargon with common, easy-to-comprehend synonyms. Consult a thesaurus if you need help translating your complex concepts into simpler terms. Even if your audience can follow your fancy phrasing, they will still appreciate the ease of listening to everyday language.

No. 4: No audience ever complained about a presentation or speech being too short. ―Stephen Keague

The takeaway: Respect your audience’s time, and edit your presentation to remove extraneous language. Say only what you must to make your point. The longer you talk, the more likely you are to lose your audience’s interest-and their respect.

No. 5: I have always said that everyone is in sales. Maybe you don’t hold the title of salesperson, but if the business you are in requires you to deal with people, you, my friend, are in sales. ―Zig Ziglar

The takeaway: Even if your presentation is inspirational or educational and has nothing to do with sales, you still ought to approach your presentation as if it were a sales pitch. Use the tools of persuasion to motivate your audience to hear your message and buy into the importance of your ideas. You might not be asking your audience to give you money, but you do want them to give you their time, which to some is even more valuable.

No. 6: If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time―a tremendous whack. ―Winston Churchill

The takeaway: Craft a clear message. Repeat your central idea in multiple ways throughout your talk. Give a variety of examples and supporting facts to build a strong, easily understood case. If your audience ends up confused about your main point, your presentation was, well, pointless.

Leslie Belknap is the marketing director of Ethos3, where a version of this article first appeared.


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