Ask any professional speechwriter and he will tell you that most people in an audience will forget 90 percent of a speech by the morning after it is delivered. But amazingly, people in the same audience can repeat a well-chosen quotation or humorous item from a speech -- sometimes as long as several years later.
Every speech does not need quotations, but every speaker needs to know why, how, and when to use quotations in their speeches.
Benefits of Quote
There are numerous benefits to crafting quotations into your speech, including:
- The primary reason to quote material in your speech is that it reinforces your ideas. A quotation offers a second voice echoing your claims, but is more powerful than simply repeating yourself in different words.
- Generally the quotes are from a well renowned person. By using the quote we can piggybank on them to enhance our credibility
- Quotes usually offer a concise and memorable phase, that has a proven track record
- Quotations are also one of the way to add logical argument. Along with statistics, metaphors etc it helps in maintaining the audience attention.
Tips of using Quotations in the speech
If a quotation reinforces the point you want to make, it is almost impossible to misuse it. However, there are simple techniques you can use to make quotations blend into your natural language in a seamless way. Here are a few of them:
Suit the quotation to the topic and the audience: Be sure that the point of the quotation clearly sums up, illustrates, or confirms the point you’re making. And be sure that the person you’re quoting has credibility with your audience. You wouldn’t want, for example, to quote Karl Marx with approval if you’re speaking to a group of libertarians. Quoting someone the audience typically disagrees with does work, however, if that person said something that confirms what the audience believes.
Make sure you get the phrasing correct: A quotation should boost your credibility, but quoting inaccurately weakens your credibility. A sloppy quotation makes you look lazy.
Keep it short: Anything longer than 15 to 20 words is too long. (This is especially true if you’re quoting poetry.)
Quote the expert: Don’t quote individuals based purely on their fame or success; base your decision on their expertise in the subject area you are talking about. Quote Newton on Science or Pele on soccer. The other way round can invite trouble
Quote a name of a book: You can use a name of a book to quote any relavent topics like “How often have you looked at your spouse and wondered if they were from the same planet as you, let alone the same species? Well, you are not the first to wonder that; in fact John Gray wrote a book about it – Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – who here has heard about it?”
Quote doesn’t Prove anything: Just because someone famous said something doesn’t mean it’s true.Quotations may add weight to your argument or make your point in a pleasing and memorable way, but they don’t prove your point. Think of quotations as confirmation, illustrations, and rhetorical flourishes, not as proof.
Use One: As a rule, limit yourself to one quotation per speech. A speech articulates your thoughts and ideas. It isn’t or it shouldn’t be a summary of what other people have said. An exception: you can use one quotation at the beginning of your speech and another at the end, if they offer a pleasing juxtaposition. Don’t over do it.