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Top 20 Public Speaking Quotes

Wisdom is all around us and life always presents us with an opportunity to learn and grow. We find it everywhere, in ourselves, our friends and family. As it is often sagaciously said, we are all both teachers and student to each-other. Students in my communication, public speaking and leadership courses often ask me for my favorite public speaking quotes. After much thought — I have compiled this list of my top 20 favorites as it relates to public speaking and communication in general.


Public Speaking Quotes Top 20

“A wise man speaks because he has something to say, a fool speaks because he has to say something.”

Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled.

“Grasp the subject, the words will follow.”
-Cato The Elder Quotes

“Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men.”

“Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent.”
-Dionysius Of Halicarnassus

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
-Benjamin Franklin

“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

“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

“Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.”
-Winston Churchill

“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

“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
-Mark Twain

“There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.”
-Mark Twain

“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear paralyses you – fear of flying, fear of the future, fear of leaving a rubbish marriage, fear of public speaking, or whatever it is.
-Annie Lennox

“Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.”
-John Maynard Keynes

“Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.”
-D.H. Lawrence

“If I went back to college again, I’d concentrate on two areas: learning to write and to speak before an audience. Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively.”
-Gerald R. Ford

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.”
-John Ford

“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 delivering the eulogy.”
-Jerry Seinfeld

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”
-Jimi Hendrix

I hope these quotes will energize and propel you toward the speaking success you so deserve. Do you have another favorite quote you’d like me to add? Leave it in a comment below. As always, we are wishing you success in all your speaking and leadership endeavors. Want more tips and insights on being a better public speaker/communicator? Join our mailing list.

This post is derived from a presentation I gave and posted on Slideshare. Feel free to view it below or download it.

8 thoughts on “Top 20 Public Speaking Quotes”

  1. Annie Marie Peters

    Awesome list of quotes! I really connected with John Ford’s advice: “You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” Thanks for posting these!

  2. Thank you very much! This will surely help me in my speech next week at my college’s cultural festivals. One of my best is “There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.” by Mark Twain

  3. Thanks a thousand !!! For the phrases what most impacted the phrase “Be still when you have nothing to say; When genuine passion moves you, say what you have to say and say it with enthusiasm. ”
    -DH Lawrence.
    Thank you!

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