Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 204) – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (1928 - 2014) American Poet, Author, Singer, Dancer and Actress

Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014) American Poet, Author, Singer, Dancer and Actress

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

— Maya Angelou


About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
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4 Responses to Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 204) – Maya Angelou

  1. Rashid says:

    While I like this quote a lot, indeed use it in my presentation, my biggest take away, and a point I make in my presentation is that “This Is Biology. Repeat. This is Biology”. While presenting, if we ignore this reality/biology, we do so at our own peril. If material (rational content) is delivered without an accompanying emotional exchange between speaker and audience, it will likely be forgotten–i.e., not remembered.

    This insight fundamentally changed my approach to speechcraft.

    • John Zimmer says:

      Thanks, Rashid. You are right. A speech that is only focused on facts will not be as powerful as one that also has emotional appeal. Aristotle knew this thousands of years ago when he wrote “Rhetoric”. He said that a good speech is built on three pillars or, as he called them, the three persuasive appeals: logos (the logic of what is being said); ethos (the reputation and trustworthiness of the speaker); and pathos (the emotion).

  2. Celeste Brown says:

    This is one of my all-time favorite quotes, John, and use it often. However, it is inaccurately attributed to Maya Angelou. Yes, she said it but its original source seems to be an American man named Carl Buehner.

    • John Zimmer says:

      Hi Celeste. Thanks for the note and the keen eye. In fact, I had already attributed the quote to Carl Buehner*. See this post from 2012. The quote by Maya Angelou is different in that she has added the phrase, “people will forget what you did”. Of course, the quote is really just an expansion on Buehner’s original. For an interesting read on the history of the quote, check out this post on Quote Investigator.

      *Interestingly, I discovered in the above-mentioned post by Quote Investigator that Buehner’s last name was wrongly transcribed as “Buechner” or “Buchner” and that those incorrect transcriptions have actually stuck in many instances. In fact, when I discovered Buehner’s quote, it was attributed to “Buechner” and I noted it down as such in my earlier post.

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