How a Famous Quote Can Turn a Good Presentation into a Memorable One

"JFK Inaugural address"

JFK Inaugural address

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Who doesn’t get the chills when watching a video of former President John F. Kennedy making this powerful statement during his Presidential inaugural address 50 years ago?

A half-century later his words still resonate. Most people don’t remember what else he said on that cold, sunny day after a huge snowstorm almost derailed the ceremony. But it is often cited as one of the greatest presidential inaugural speeches ever – mostly because of that one quote. The President delivered a call to action to unite the American people in helping to move the country forward.

Use Quotes to Make a Point

Do you use quotes to enrich your presentations? True, President Kennedy was a gifted orator. But you can also make your presentations memorable by including famous quotes that reinforce your points of view. We all love a good quote. And so will members of your audience.

"Get simple as possible"

Get simple as possible

If you’re challenging your team to be more innovative, for example, you might use this famous quote from Albert Einstein, one of the greatest innovators of all time:

 “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

The late Steve Jobs, the great simplifier, couldn’t have said it better.

During presentation training, we use this quote to remind clients to focus on their key messages and to pare away the extraneous words that just get in the way.

From Thomas Jefferson:

“The most valuable of all talents is never using two words when one will do.”

Find Ideas for Presentations

"Become the benchmark of excellence"

Become the benchmark of excellence

Stuck for a presentation topic? You can go online for archives of great quotes to spark ideas. One source is IdeaBank, which not only has quotes but anecdotes and excerpts you can use. Another source is BrainyQuote. This site organizes by topic, by author and new authors in the news.

Of course, Steve Jobs was listed, and in going through all the great quotes he’s credited with, here is one that surely could be the inspiration for a presentation:

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

You could base an entire presentation about the need to establish benchmarks of quality. Challenge your audience to be not just good but great.

Our Favorite Quotes

Over the years, we’ve accumulated a treasure trove of quotes, all of which can make a presentation more powerful. Here are just a few:

“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” John Wooden

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

“Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” – Winston Churchill

“Silence is the ultimate weapon of power.” – Charles de Gaulle

“Creative thinking is merely intelligent plagiarism.” – Aristotle

What are your favorite quotes? Just write them in the comment box below and we’ll add them to a list with credit for a future blog!

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4 comments to How a Famous Quote Can Turn a Good Presentation into a Memorable One

  • joan capelin

    Great article, Joyce; it gets the brain working! I hope that people are tracking Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham – a.k.a. Maggie Smith! I have an entire binder of quotes, but the Countess is outdoing anyone. Everyone, she said, in an early episode of “Downton Abbey’s” final sixth season, has the right to disagree with her, so long as they don’t win. Now, that I can relate to!

    That failure quote, incidentally, has been attributed to many people – but that only proves its resonance.

  • “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible!” – Walt Disney

  • Hollis Copeland

    Thank you, I will use these quotes as inspiration and thinking points.

  • mr mausam

    marvelous quotes for motivating thyself and country

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