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[Speaking-Out-Loud July 2015] Using second hand words - recycling with quotations
July 08, 2015

Welcome to the July Issue of Speaking-Out-Loud's newsletter to help you effectively "talk your walk".

In this Issue

Second hand words

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Recycle, re-use, borrow ...

Using Quotations

We humans are a perverse group. We have deeply ingrained stigmas over using other people's castoffs like clothes or furniture but we have few qualms about sifting through piles of their second hand words. The best of these we pounce on to use over and over again because adding other people's words or quotations to our speeches can lift them from ordinary to inspiring.

Through a well chosen quotation we borrow from its original owner:

  • clarity
  • humor
  • wisdom
  • authority
  • expertise
  • glamor

Finding the right quotation to fit your speech is not that difficult if you're willing to spend some time patiently flicking through collections. There are many on the internet, usually usefully divided into topic categories. Similarly you'll find books of them in your local library.

And here!

Themed quotations

I have handy themed collections on my site for use in varying special occasion speeches.

These are:

Using a quote

Once you've found a quotation you'd like to use, consider how it fits your speech.

Does it fit the tone?
For example, if your speech is light-hearted, a serious and formal quotation may be out of place. The opposite is also true.

Does it add meaning, clarity, authority or wisdom?
If it doesn't, your quote may sound random or even silly. Give it context, a legitimate reason for being there.

Try saying your speech out loud. If the quotation doesn't sound right, either find a way to make it fit or leave it out. Sometimes your words are better than anybody else's second hand ones! If you're unsure get someone to listen and give you feedback.

And a final word of warning, if you do use a quotation please don't fall into the trap of trying to pass it off as your own. Somebody is bound to know it, particularly if you've picked a well known, (to people other than yourself), author, speaker, celebrity, philosopher...


Click the link for an example of how a quotation can be used to make a powerful speech ending.

Check this example 40th birthday speech to see a quote worked to fit its context.

And lastly, here's a retirement speech that also makes use of a quotation.

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What's new

A round up of pages, either revamped with added information or new on the site.

  • Speech topics. This is a gateway page to the oodles of specialist speech topic pages on site. Now instead of being scattered around, they're listed in a single place.
  • Characterization techniques to enhance storytelling in your speeches. How to flip into, and out of character.

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And now some inspiration ...

Grammarly. My new favorite! It seems I was a tad late to this party - a mere 5.3 million people found it before me. If you're not one of them, check it out. It's truly wonderful. You'll find tips and tricks to deal with all those pesky English language details.

Comment, share & connect

If you've got comments, feedback or questions you're most welcome to contact me through my about me page.

If you liked this issue of Speaking-Out-Loud, please feel free to send it on to any friends or family. The site url to forward so they can subscribe is Speaking-Out-Loud.

And I'd love to see you on's face book page too.

Until next time,
Happy speaking,


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