Why doesn't the fellow who says, "I'm no speechmaker," let it go at that instead of giving a demonstration?
There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.
Never be grandiloquent when you want to drive home a searching truth. Don't whip with a switch that has the leaves on, if you want it to tingle.
~Henry Ward Beecher
But I... never could make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it.
~Mark Twain, 1879 speech (Thanks, Garson O'Toole!)
Be sincere; be brief; be seated.
~Franklin D. Roosevelt, on speechmaking
When a sermon at length comes to an end, people rise and praise God, and they feel the same way after many other speeches.
~John Andrew Holmes
Nothing is as easy to make as a promise this winter to do something next summer; this is how commencement speakers are caught.
~Sydney J. Harris
A speech is poetry: cadence, rhythm, imagery, sweep! A speech reminds us that words, like children, have the power to make dance the dullest beanbag of a heart.
The nature of oratory is such that there has always been a tendency among politicians and clergymen to oversimplify complex matters. From a pulpit or a platform even the most conscientious of speakers finds it very difficult to tell the whole truth.
Always be shorter than anybody dared to hope.
~Lord Reading, on speechmaking
I sometimes marvel at the extraordinary docility with which Americans submit to speeches.
~Adlai E. Stevenson
Oratory is the power to talk people out of their sober and natural opinions.
The eloquent man is he who is no beautiful speaker, but who is inwardly and desperately drunk with a certain belief.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals, 1845
Few speeches which have produced an electrical effect on an audience can bear the colourless photography of a printed record.
~Archibald Philip Primrose
His speeches left the impression of an army of pompous phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea.
Political speeches are like steer horns. A point here, a point there, and a lot of bull in between.
~Alfred E. Neuman
Public speaking is the art of diluting a two-minute idea with a two-hour vocabulary.
Liberty don't work as good in practice as it does in speeches.
His speeches to an hour-glassDo some resemblance showBecause the longer time they runThe shallower they grow.
The problem with speeches isn't so much not knowing when to stop, as knowing when not to begin.
Commencement oratory must eschew anything that smacks of partisan politics, political preference, sex, religion or unduly firm opinion. Nonetheless, there must be a speech: Speeches in our culture are the vacuum that fills a vacuum.
~John Kenneth Galbraith
Today's public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can't read them either.
Commencement speeches were invented largely in the belief that outgoing college students should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated.
The best way to sound like you know what you're talking about is to know what you're talking about.