Help Me Pick the 100th Quote for Public Speakers

Last year, I started a series on quotes for public speakers. As I said in the first post, there are often nuggets of gold to be mined in the briefest of words. My idea was to provide one quote at a time, and let readers ponder it without additional comment from me.

Many of the quotes have nothing to do with public speaking per se; however, all of them contain insights that are relevant for the craft. And so, from Mark Twain to Freddie Mercury, from Pablo Picasso to Nelson Mandela, the quotes have come. Some have been inspirational, some have been controversial, some have been humorous; all have been thought-provoking.

Your response to this series on quotes for public speakers has been terrific. Thank you for the comments and shares on social media. But now, with 99 quotes under our belt, how best to choose the 100th? I was thinking about several candidates when an idea struck me—why not let you have some input?

So here’s what we’re going to do: Below you will find four straightforward questions. Simply choose one answer for each question and click the “Vote” button. The poll will remain open for ten days. When it closes, I will attempt to find a quote from a person who meets each of the four criteria, as selected by you.

What will the 100th quote be? A humorous quote from a living woman with mother tongue English? A serious quote from a deceased man who did not speak English? Some other combination? The answer is in your hands. And, if you would like to recommend a specific speaker, please leave your suggestion in the comment section below.

Poll now closed. To see the 100th quote for public speakers, please click this link.

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  1. “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
    George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903) “Maxims for Revolutionists”

  2. John, this is a marvellous idea. I shall look at all your quotes and freely add them to my own list if I may.
    Best regards, Paul.

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for the comment. Glad that you like the idea for the series. You are more than welcome to use the quotes – especially given that they are not mine! But you are also welcome to use anything else on the blog that you find useful.

  3. John,
    Hi there… Just got back from some travels and have only just seen your 100th Quote request. I’m probably too late but just for the fun of it here are some quotes I used in my presentation for COT Trainings in our Division recently, in no particular order:
    “To lead the people, walk behind them.” Lao Tzu
    Winston Churchill once said that “The three most difficult things in life are to climb a wall that is leaning towards you; to kiss a girl who is leaning away from you; and to make a speech!”
    “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer
    I’ll call you in the next few days would like to make you an offer you can refuse… but may want to consider ;-))!!!
    PS Just re-written and re-designed my website – – any comments/suggestions would be well received!

    1. Hi Michael,
      Thanks very much for the comment. You are not too late; voting will remain open until the end of the month. Thanks for sharing the quotes! I had heard the one by Lao Tzu, and the one by Churchill was my 29th Quote for Public Speakers (though worded a bit differently). But I love the quote by Schweitzer. Definitely a keeper.
      Thanks also for sharing your website. I’ll be sure to take a look.

  4. This is a little longer than a quote, but I thought I would share it….
    Do not be afraid to shine.
    This world needs what you have to give.
    Open up the areas of your being;
    expose them to yourself – to others.
    You are valuable.
    You are unique.
    You have much to give.
    Do not be afraid to give it.
    As we risk ourselves, we grow.
    Each new experience is a risk:
    we can try, and maybe fail,
    and as a result, grow –
    or hold back and stagnate.
    You have the potential
    to be anything you want to be!
    You are free to choose.
    You are limited only by your fears.
    Let your dreams take over,
    fly with the eagles,
    soar into life,
    the world is waiting for you!
    Copyright 1987
    Fran Watson

  5. Hi John,
    This is one of my favourite quotes and when public speaker training I use this to help speakers overcome stage fright and just get out there and do it. However it applies far far more broadly:
    “The area you can determine or influence is directly regulated by the amount of communication you have into that area no matter now painful it may be to you. Remember that. The determinism of the actions in that area directly and immediately depends upon the amount of communication you‘ve got into that area.
    “And the answer is more communication, not less.”
    – L. Ron Hubbard

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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International