Using Great Quotations
Quotations can succinctly and colorfully distill an observation about an idea you want to convey in a speech. These get attention first because of the change of pace from your own words.
Second, the person you are quoting is usually going to be some sort of celebrity, which in and of itself gets attention (so mention the name before you start reading the quote). Even if the individual was not really an authority on the subject, her many fans will listen more closely.
Third, the particular phrasing helps the audience remember the point you are making. It may put the idea into an amusing setting.
For these reasons, putting a quotation at the front of your talk is a good way to get off on the right foot with an audience (and if there is a bit of humor involved, all the better to get everyone laughing).
Do not use a long quotation because minds will wander: trim to the essential point if the original wording is long-winded or not entirely relevant to your subject. You can also paraphrase, if you let listeners know you are doing so.
What primary references should you use?
A more recent entry that draws more on popular culture than traditional volumes is
You may also find it useful to consult collections that have a particular focus, such as
Among the 193,000 choices of specialized quote collections offered by Amazon are
Never rely on the Internet for exact wording or attribution. Quite often even sites devoted to providing accurate quotations and their sources will have misinformation. The Net is useful for coming up with ideas you can double-check with authoritative published quotation volumes.
Here are hints to using quotes appropriately in your speech:
Use the words of at least one person appropriate to the audience: do not only cite male business leaders to an audience of women entrepreneurs.
When you speak to international audiences, quote someone from their culture or use proverbs common in that country.
Make sure you know how to pronounce the name of each person you are quoting.
Provide some background to the quotation if it will help the audience appreciate the sentiment (such as noting that the comment came just after the author's wife died or he had gone bankrupt).
Finishing with an inspirational quote is a good way to leave the audience with a positive impression of you and the overall speech.
Also remember that when you read a quotation, do it in a different tone of voice to spark interest and highlight it as separate from the rest of your speech. Say it slowly, since often what makes it memorable is unusual wording. Then pause a few beats, as it will take a few seconds to absorb.