The Best Public Speaking Quotes Ever (Part Seven)

Once or twice each year, I post 10 of my favorite public speaking and media training quotes of all time. Today’s the day!

In the latest installment, you’ll find quotes from a business tycoon, a philosopher, and a well-known feminist, among many others.

If you don’t see your favorite quote on the list, please leave it in the comments section below.

And if you missed the previous six installments, you can catch up here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Quotation Marks

Public Speaking Quotes

1. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

– Often attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, Italian Renaissance painter (1452-1519)


2. “Oratory is like prostitution. You have to have little tricks.

– Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando (1860-1952) 1


3. “Years of actually getting up in front of audiences have taught me only three lessons. One: you don’t die. Two: there’s no right way to speak—only your way. Three: it’s worth it.

– Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem

4. “A talk is a voyage with a purpose, and it must be charted. The man who starts nowhere generally gets there.

– Dale Carnegie

5. “Designing a presentation without defining the audience is like addressing a love letter: “To Whom It May Concern.

– Attributed to two business executives (see notes) 2 

6. “Think as wise men do, but speak as the common people do.

– Attributed to Aristotle



Media Training Quotes

7. “People trust their ears less than their eyes.

– Greek historian Herodotus 3 


8. “Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing.

— John D. Rockefeller, American business tycoon (1839-1937) 4

9. “A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.

Bishop Joseph Hall (1574-1656) 4 


10. “My life is my message.

– Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Ghandi


Credits and Notes

1. I found the Vittorio Emanuele Orlando quote in Alan M. Perlman’s book “Writing Great Speeches.”

2. The “love letter” quote was attributed to Gene Zelanzy, director of visual communications for McKinsey and Co., by Fletcher Dean in “10 Steps to Writing a Vital Speech,” but was attributed to former AT&T presentation research manager Ken Haemer in Nancy Duarte’s “Resonate.”

3. I discovered this quote in Steven Lucas’s book “The Art of Public Speaking.”

4. The Rockefeller and Hall quotes first appeared on Jonathan and Erik Bernstein’s excellent crisis management website.