Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 159) – Unknown

At last, the perfect excuse to add Halle Berry to the blog!

Finally, a great excuse to add Halle Berry to the blog!

“A good speech is like a beautiful dress: long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting.”

 Source unknown; often attributed to Winston Churchill

Photo courtesy of igorjan / Flickr

About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
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12 Responses to Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 159) – Unknown

  1. Lutho Hopa says:

    Short enough to arouse interest but long enough to cover the subject

    • John Zimmer says:

      It has been said a variety of ways. I still prefer the one attributed to Churchill, mainly because I can imagine him saying it that way.

  2. David Caceres says:

    Meaningful words, spectacular picture. Well done!

  3. Christian says:

    Dear John (and other readers),

    First of all, I love your blog and visit it almost everyday looking for new updates. 🙂 I’m a Dutch speechwriter and one could always learn more about the art of public speaking. Even more considering the fact public speaking holds higher regard in America than in the Netherlands.

    I saw your interesting discussion about the origins of the quote. I agree with John that, knowing Churchill’s wit, he is a likely candidate.

    However, as a (continental) European, I might have another source for this quote: the French king-of-protocol Jacques Gandouin (1920-2003).

    In 1972, he wrote the “Guide du protocole et des usage” (Guide to protocol and custom) and the “Guide des bonnes manières et du protocole en Europe” (Guide to good manners and protocol in Europe) in 1989.

    In those books, it reads : “Un discours doit être comme une minijupe, suffisamment long pour couvrir le sujet, mais suffisamment court pour retenir l’attention.”

    Thank you for reading.


    • John Zimmer says:

      Dear Christian,

      Thanks very much for the kind words about the blog. And thanks also for the great addition to the discussion of the source of this quote. For those readers who do not speak French, the quote at the end of Christians’s comment can be translated as: “A speech should be like a miniskirt, long enough to cover the subject but short enough to hold [the audience’s] attention.”

      I had not heard of Gandouin before but will be sure to look him up. And, this helpful information is one more reason not to substitute Halle Berry’s photo with one of Churchill! 😉

      Thanks again for the comment.


  4. Rich Austin says:

    Actually, this is quote from Winston Church. “A speech should be like a women’s skirt. Long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to maintain interest.”

    • John Zimmer says:

      Thanks, Rich. I have seen the quote attributed to Churchill, and it is certainly something that he could have said, knowing his clever wit. But when looking, I found so many unattributed variations. For example, this one: “A paragraph should be like a lady’s skirt: long enough to cover the essentials but short enough to keep it interesting.”

      I’ve also seen it attributed to Mark Twain or Ronald Knox, the latter of whom supposedly said, “A good sermon should be like a woman’s skirt: short enough to arouse interest but long enough to cover the essentials.” Perhaps the compromise would be to say “Frequently attributed to Winston Churchill”. But I have enough pictures of Churchill on the blog already, so I am not changing this one! 😉



  5. John Moffitt says:

    Nice quote … we need to find out where this one originated. Context suggests something in the 20th century.

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