Extemp Content and Strategy

A Collection of Quotes (Part 2)

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. Check out part one to this series here!

A Splash of Humor

“Laws are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made.”

– Otto Von Bismarck

Otto Von Bismarck was known for his snappy, witty humor. This quote perfectly encapsulates the rough, difficult nature of making laws.

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Abraham Lincoln

Sometimes, silence is the best weapon — especially in politics. This quote would work very well if a politician ever makes a silly statement or engages in questionable rhetoric.

“If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: ‘President Can’t Swim.'”

Lyndon B. Johnson

The media plays a contentious role in political discourse. If you’d like to explore that controversy, LBJ’s quote is a great place to start!

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.”

Groucho Marx

Groucho Marx was one of the most prolific comedians of the 20th century. With a quote like this, it’s easy to see why!

More Serious

“A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.”

Teddy Roosevelt

Former US President (and later Bull Moose Party candidate) Teddy Roosevelt was known for his brand of rugged populism. This quote seems to perfectly encapsulate his populist sentiment, and it would work well for any US leader who is primarily concerned with rhetoric rather than action.

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”

David Brinkley

Most countries and their political leaders will inevitably encounter challenges. However, the most adept and practical of leaders will find ways to turn those challenges into opportunities. This could be a great way to frame a speech which will use an optimistic tone!

“Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.”

Babe Ruth

If there’s someone who knows a thing or two about home runs, it’s baseball legend Babe Ruth. This quote would be a great way to underscore the point that past success doesn’t necessarily dictate future success. You could use this quotation to criticize a political party holding onto its past electoral strategies or a country unwilling to adapt to a changing world.

“There is no great genius without some touch of madness.”


Roman statesman and philosopher Seneca’s quote could be an interesting way to suggest to your audience that, sometimes, bold risks—risks that might even be seen as mad—can be necessary for progress.

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.”

John F. Kennedy

Similar to David Brinkley’s quote, JFK’s quote emphasizes the point that, even in the midst of crisis, opportunity can be unearthed.

By Ananth Veluvali

Founder, the Extemper's Bible.

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