The Quote Garden
 “I dig old books.”
 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Speeches,
Lectures, and Sermons

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.  —ღ Terri, March 2021

It has been said of the prophet Daniel that he went with the greater willingness to the den of lions because he knew that he would not be called upon for an after-dinner speech. ~Burges Johnson, "Is After-Dinner Speaking a Disease?", The Atlantic Monthly, October 1919

Why doesn't the fellow who says, "I'm no speechmaker," let it go at that instead of giving a demonstration?  ~Kin Hubbard

There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave.  The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.  ~Dale Carnegie

Never be grandiloquent when you want to drive home a searching truth.  Don't whip with a switch that has the leaves on, if you want it to tingle.  ~Henry Ward Beecher

But I... never could make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it. ~Mark Twain, 1879 speech

Be sincere; be brief; be seated.  ~Franklin D. Roosevelt, on speechmaking

When a sermon at length comes to an end, people rise and praise God, and they feel the same way after many other speeches.  ~John Andrew Holmes

Nothing is as easy to make as a promise this winter to do something next summer; this is how commencement speakers are caught.  ~Sydney J. Harris

If a lecture be one-third good sense, the balance may be whatever chance may make it, provided it be not particularly offensive. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

A speech is poetry: cadence, rhythm, imagery, sweep!  A speech reminds us that words, like children, have the power to make dance the dullest beanbag of a heart.  ~Peggy Noonan

The nature of oratory is such that there has always been a tendency among politicians and clergymen to oversimplify complex matters. From a pulpit or a platform even the most conscientious of speakers finds it very difficult to tell the whole truth. ~Aldous Huxley

The influence of the platform is much more potent than that of the pen. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

I sat, without winking or crossing my knees once, through an organ voluntary, two prayers, twenty-seven addresses, three hymns, and a chorus... I'd no idea there was so much to say in the world... ~Peppermint Perkins (Joe Perkins), 1886, of a dedication event

The most indispensable gift for every American preacher is a mastery of the English tongue. His words should be clear as crystal and his sentences should shed light. His paragraphs should cut like swords and flash like torches. The sermon should be free from opaque and clouded phrases, and should abound in "words which the heart knows." His language must be the language of the conscience and the heart. His style must be pedestrian. It must fit down close around the skin of things. Deep thought and big words do not necessarily go together. The great words are nearly all short words, God and man, heaven and home, wife and child, life and love, faith and hope, joy and grief, pain and death, all these and a hundred like them drop easily from the tongue. The words which lovers know and which mothers speak in soothing and instructing little children, and which fathers whisper in the chamber of death and sob beside the grave, and which all men use in carrying on the life and business of the world, are all simple words, and these are the words which should be most frequent on the preacher's lips. These words are stained through and through with the heart experiences of many generations. They carry with them a light and fragrance which fill all the room in which they are spoken. And, a preacher's style should be full of color and music, fresh and rich — Love must always say the same things, but it never repeats itself. ~Charles Edward Jefferson, "Thy Speech Bewrayeth Thee," Quiet Hints to Growing Preachers in My Study, 1901  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Always be shorter than anybody dared to hope.  ~Lord Reading, on speechmaking

I sometimes marvel at the extraordinary docility with which Americans submit to speeches. ~Adlai E. Stevenson

Oratory is the power to talk people out of their sober and natural opinions. ~Joseph Chatfield

There are some speakers who are brilliant only when under the influence of stimulants; like the moon, they are brightest when they are full. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

The eloquent man is he who is no beautiful speaker, but who is inwardly & desperately drunk with a certain belief; it agitates & tears him, & almost bereaves him of the power of articulation. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Few speeches which have produced an electrical effect on an audience can bear the colourless photography of a printed record.  ~Archibald Philip Primrose

His speeches left the impression of an army of pompous phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea.  ~Author Unknown

Political speeches are like steer horns.  A point here, a point there, and a lot of bull in between.  ~Alfred E. Neuman

Public speaking is the art of diluting a two-minute idea with a two-hour vocabulary.  ~Evan Esar

Most people tire of a lecture in ten minutes; clever people can do it in five. Sensible people never go to lectures at all. But the people who do go to a lecture and who get tired of it, presently hold it as a sort of grudge against the lecturer personally. In reality his sufferings are worse than theirs. ~Stephen Leacock, My Discovery of England, 1922

I never lecture, not because I am shy or a bad speaker, but simply because I detest the sort of people who go to lectures and don't want to meet them. ~H.L. Mencken

His speeches to an hour-glass
Do some resemblance show
Because the longer time they run
The shallower they grow.
~Author Unknown

The problem with speeches isn't so much not knowing when to stop, as knowing when not to begin.  ~Frances Rodman

A speech is like a woman's skirt: it needs to be long enough to cover the subject matter but short enough to hold the audience's attention.~Author Unknown

Commencement oratory must eschew anything that smacks of partisan politics, political preference, sex, religion or unduly firm opinion.  Nonetheless, there must be a speech: Speeches in our culture are the vacuum that fills a vacuum.  ~John Kenneth Galbraith

Today's public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can't read them either.  ~Gore Vidal

The chief function of the graduation speaker has always been to ensure that the graduating seniors are not released into the real world until they have been properly sedated. ~Garry Trudeau, 1991

The best way to sound like you know what you're talking about is to know what you're talking about.  ~Author Unknown

A good speech has a beginning, a middle and an end, the best example being "I love you." ~Robert Brault,

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