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




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Quotations about Speeches,
Lectures, and Sermons



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?", in The Atlantic Monthly, 1919


Why doesn't th' feller who sayz 'I'm no speechmaker,' let it go at that instead o' givin' 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


In the recipe for public speaking, the most important ingredient is the shortening. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes, Evan Esar, 1968


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


Said James Roosevelt, addressing a meeting in Hollywood, "My father gave me these hints on speech-making: 'Be sincere… be brief… be seated.'" ~George Ross in New York World-Telegram, as quoted by The Reader's Digest, 1940  [his father: Franklin D. Roosevelt —tg]


The first rule of public speaking is to speak up, the second is to sit down. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes, Evan Esar, 1968


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


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


The speech was quite good…
We enjoyed all his levity.
If only it could
Have included some brevity!
~William Arthur Ward (1921–1994)


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, King Features, as quoted by The Reader's Digest, 1996


      A speech is a soliloquy — one man on a bare stage with a big spotlight... A speech is part theater and part political declaration... 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.
      Speeches... have been changing — making, forcing — history... They count. They more than count, they shape what happens... A great speech from a leader to the people eases our isolation, breaks down the walls, includes people. It takes them inside a spinning thing and makes them part of the gravity. ~Peggy Noonan, "Speech! Speech!," What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era, 1990, peggynoonan.com  [Noonan: "The use of man, here, is generic. I mean man and woman; he also means she." —tg]


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


One of the chief evils of public speaking is to finish your speech before you stop talking. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes, Evan Esar, 1968


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]


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


There is little doubt that Pitt and Fox were both at their best and that the fortunate members who sat in the House of Commons on the 23rd and 24th of May 1803 heard the highest expression of English eloquence. During Pitt's speech, however, the reporters were unluckily excluded, and we have only a jejune abstract of Fox's. Our regret must be for ourselves and not for the orators: as few speeches which have produced an electrical effect on an audience can bear the colourless photography of a printed record. ~Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, Pitt, 1891  [a little altered —tg]


Public speaking is like drinking:  knowing when to start is less important than knowing when to stop. ~The Comic Encyclopedia, Evan Esar, 1978


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


Vane's speeches to an hour glass
      Do some resemblance show,
Because the longer time they run
      The shallower they grow!
~Figaro in London, 1832, published by William Strange


Afterdinner speeches would be much shorter if they were given before dinner. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes, Evan Esar, 1968


There are also the stern constraints on commencement oratory. It must eschew anything that smacks of partisan politics, political or sexual preference, religion or unduly firm opinion. As so often in our time, truth, as asserted, must be in a careful balance between right and wrong. No student has ever been known to confess in later life to any influence from the address that graced his or her graduation or, indeed, to any recollection of what was said. Nonetheless, there must be a speech; speeches in our culture are the vacuum that fills a vacuum. ~John Kenneth Galbraith, 1984


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


An orator is a man who seems to think that to be immortal a speech must be eternal. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes, Evan Esar, 1968


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, rbrault.blogspot.com





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