Thursday, February 19, 2009, 1:36 PM

History's advice for public speakers

With President Obama's first State of the Union speech days away, it's a good time to dust off quotes from some of history's best speech givers and speech writers. The advice below applies to corporate executives and communications managers as much as it does to public officials.

"Be sincere; be brief; be seated." -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

"Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em. Then tell 'em. Then tell 'em what you told 'em." -- New York Times columnist and Nixon speechwriter William Safire.

"Let thy speech be brief, comprehending much in few words." -- King James Bible.

“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.” -- Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan.

"It's not that tough to write a good speech, but rather just a matter of a few lines." -- Kennedy speechwriter Ted Sorenson.

"Grasp the subject; the words will follow." -- Cato the Elder.

Executives would be well served to heed this advice next time they deliver prepared remarks or interview with a local reporter. Communicating effectively requires more than having something to say; it requires thought, preparation, and knack for memorable quotes.

Let's hear from you. What are the most memorable speeches or quotes in your mind?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Don't speak unless it will improve upon the silence." - Spanish Proverb

February 19, 2009 at 7:15 PM  

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