Few things spice up a speech like a timely quote. In this article, we’ll go over some quotes that can be used in any extemporaneous speech and go over how to use them.
Few things contribute more to an extemp speech than a well-placed quote: adding a meaningful quotation can help enhance an otherwise bland or monotonous speech in many ways. It can add some much-needed humor, make a powerful statement, provide an easy transition, or simply give your statements a little more ethos. Here is a list of a few great quotations that can enhance your speech and a short analysis of possible uses for them.
A Splash of Humor
“If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.”
-Former Vice President Dan Quale
This versatile quote can be applied almost anywhere to lighten up the mood and make your point a little more pronounced. If you happen to be discussing successes or failures, in any arena, whether it be climate change or governmental reform, this quote can come in handy.
“One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is ‘to be prepared’.”
-Former Vice President Dan Quale
If you ever need to talk about Mike Pence, Kamala Harris, or the vice presidency in general, this funny and blunt quote from Dan Quale (as much a comedian as a politician) fits in anywhere.
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
It’s no secret that polarization is at an all-time high in the US right now and this quote can effectively show the gravity and threat of our unwillingness to accept our fellow citizens.
“There is no more dangerous menace to civilization than a government of incompetent, corrupt, or vile men.”
-Ludwig von Mises (Renowned Austrian historian and scholar)
It’s fair to say that Congress (and most politicians) are not exactly the most trusted or tolerated people in the world, this quote reflects that and can be a powerful addition to any speech or argument dealing with corruption, mismanagement, or authoritarianism.
“If Corruption is a disease, Transparency is essential, part of its treatment”
-Kofi Annan (Former UN Secretary-general & Nobel peace prize laureate)
We live in an era where governments across the world and at home are all too often rife with corruption. This quote will come in handy when discussing corruption and how to deal with it (usually with more transparency and accountability).
“The opportunist thinks of me and today. The statesman thinks of us and tomorrow.”
-Dwight Eisenhower (34th President)
This one can come in handy when discussing long term sustainability for our country, though, it’s versatile enough to be applied to many different areas, from climate change to governmental reform.
“I may be president of the United States, but my personal life is nobody’s damn business”
-Chester Arthur (21st president)
Media outlets and politicians are often ruthless in pushing their agendas. They tend to make cheap character attacks and publicize people’s personal lives to harm them. This quote makes for effective condemnation of this trend, especially in an era of increasingly ‘dirty’ politics.
“Democracy is necessary to peace and undermining the forces of terrorism”
-Benazir Bhutto (Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, the nation’s first female leader)
Governmental corruption and instability are among the chief causes of terrorism and this quote efficiently conveys that solid, democratic governments are necessary for stability in any region.
“To those who cling to power through corruption and silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist”
-Barack Obama (44th President)
This one helps when discussing diplomacy with difficult regimes. I like to use this one when discussing countries like North Korea, but it could be used in reference to Iran, China, or several other countries with dicey governments.
“Empires have no interest in operating within an international system; they aspire to be the international system.”
-Henry Kissinger (Former Secretary of State)
This quote is really handy when discussing the aggressive behavior and imperialistic tendencies of certain nations. Whether you’re discussing China’s economic behavior or Britain’s history in a speech, it’s pretty effective at explaining the root motive of imperialism.
“China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.”
-Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte
This quote from Napoleon is very timely, as the world has been, and still is, starting to see China “wake up.” It serves to emphasize the fact that China is a powerhouse and force to be reckoned with.
Even though your mind might be swimming with the rhetoric and eloquence of these statements, it is important to remember that while these quotes may come in handy, there are plenty of other great quotes yet to be found and used in extemp. Read the news, go through history books, listen to some famous speeches, and you will surely find a plethora of quotes that can enhance any speech.
What quotes do you frequently use in your speeches? Did we miss any good ones? Let us know down in the comments!