Quotes & Great Speeches

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A handy reference full of useful, topical quotes that you can use in your next presentation
Quotes are listed according to subject and updated regularly. Where possible, quotes are attributed; those with no name mentioned are of uncertain origin. You might also find some useful material on the Fun Page.

You may also find some useful material in our archive of great speeches from history where Kevin Ryan has collected some of the most important speeches by the world's great leaders that will provide excellent examples and possible quotes for anyone writing a speech.

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A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Sir Winston Churchill

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult. Seneca

There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew. Marshall McLuhan

Ability is what you're capable of doing...Motivation determines what you do...Attitude determines how well you do it. Lou Holtz

Enthusiasm is faith set on fire. George Adams

If you always do what you always do, you’ll always get what you’ve always got

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If everybody is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking. George Patton

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation. Herman Melville

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

I have no special gift. I am only passionately curious. Albert Einstein

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Scott Adams

Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected. William Plomer

The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense. Tom Clancy

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. Albert Einstein

To live a creative life, we must first lose the fear of being wrong. Joseph Chilton Pearce

One who walks in another's tracks leaves no footprints.

If you always do what you always do, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

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Human beings are the only creatures that allow their children to come back home. Bill Cosby

My Dad always said that laughter was the best medicine. Perhaps that is why several members of our family died of tuberculosis. Jack Handy

My wife and I were happy for twenty years – then we met. Rodney Dangerfield.

I still miss my ex-wife/husband, but my aim is getting better.

Marriage/families is/are nature’s way of stopping people from fighting with strangers.

I know my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a hair dryer.

My family was in iron and steel – my mother ironed and my father stole.

A man had his credit card stolen but he decided not to report it because the thief was spending less than his wife.

Theory of relativity: The more relatives are visiting you, the slower the time passes.

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The Future

The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be. Paul Valery


My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants. J. Brotherton

Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing. George Sheehan

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. Tom Bodett

It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere. Agnes Repplier

Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of travelling. Margaret Lee Runbeck

Remember happiness doesn't depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think. Dale Carnegie

The really happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery when on a detour.

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It's not true that nice guys finish last. Nice guys are winners before the game even starts. Addison Walker

As you grow older, you'll find the only things you regret are the things you didn't do. Zachary Scott

Everything you can imagine is real. Picasso

What is now proved was once only imagined. William Blake

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile... initially scared me to death. Betty Bender

Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.

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It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves. Edmund Hillary

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke

Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking. H. Jackson Browne

If you laugh at poor people you insult the God who made them. Proverbs 17.5

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. Ambrose Redmoon

Fear is the darkroom where negatives develop. Max Walker

It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues. Abraham Lincoln

What we must decide is how we are valuable rather than how valuable we are. Edgar Z. Friedenberg

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. Albert Einstein

Money and success don't change people; they merely amplify what is already there. Will Smith

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True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing. And in knowing that you know nothing, that makes you the smartest of all. Socrates

In times of change, the learners will inherit the Earth. While the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. Eric Hoffer

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. Confucius

Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. Malcolm S. Forbes

Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival. W. Edwards Deming

The simplest questions are the hardest to answer. Northrop Frye

The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

The person who does not read good books has no advantage over the person who cannot read them. Mark Twain

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand. Chinese Proverb

The search for truth is more precious than its possession. Albert Einstein


The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. Alvin Toffler

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A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on. Samuel Goldwyn

In court, the defendant puts his/her life in the hands of twelve people too stupid to get off jury duty.

A jury consists of twelve people chosen to decide who has the best lawyer.

99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

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Example is not the main thing influencing others. It is the only thing. Albert Schweitzer

We must become the change we want to see. Gandhi

Treat people as they are, and they will remain that way. Treat them as they are already what they can be, and you help them become what they are capable of becoming. Goethe

Sometimes you’ve got to create what you want to be a part of. Geri Weitzman

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. Theodore Roosevelt

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. Peter Drucker

There are great men who make everyone feel small. The real great man is the man who makes every man feel great. G K Chesterton

If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there. Doug Horton

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable. Seneca (the Younger)

The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves. Ray Kroc

The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone. You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it. Elaine Agather

The person who knows how will always have a job. The person who knows why will always be that person’s boss. Diane Ravitch

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Money can’t buy friends, but it does get you a better class of enemy. Spike Milligan

Money does not bring happiness – but it sure makes being miserable a lot more pleasant.

The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all your money.

Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness doesn’t know where to shop.

A bank manager is someone who lends you an umbrella when the sun is shining, and who asks for it back when it starts to rain.

I was so poor I had to join the army to get a haircut.

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

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Risk Taking/Mistakes

A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. William Shedd

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable but more useful than a life
spent doing nothing. George Bernard Shaw

Progress always involves risk; you can't steal second base and keep your foot on first base. Frederick Wilcox

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. Robert F Kennedy

Why not go out on a limb? That's where the fruit is. Will Rogers

We'll do all right if we can capitalize on our mistakes. Mickey Rivers

The person who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything. E. J. Phelps

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain

Sing like you know the words; dance like no one's watching; and love like it's never going to hurt.

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Sex without love is an empty, meaningless experience – but of all the empty, meaningless experiences it’s one of the best. Woody Allen

My brain: it’s my second favourite organ. Woody Allen

According to a new survey, women say they feel more comfortable undressing in front of men than they do undressing in front of other women. They say that women are too judgmental, where, of course, men are just grateful. Jay Leno

If it weren’t for pickpockets, I’d have no sex life at all. Rodney Dangerfield

My girlfriend always laughs during sex – no matter what she’s reading. Emo Philips

Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place. Billy Crystal

Women might be able to fake orgasms, but men can fake the whole relationship. Jimmy Shubert

I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy.  Tom Clancy

You know that 'look' women get when they want sex? Me neither.  Steve Martin 

Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand.  Woody Allen

Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night. Woody Allen

See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time.  Robin Williams

It isn't premarital sex if you have no intention of getting married.  Matt Barry

Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist.  Camille Paglia

There's very little advice in men's magazines, because men think,  'I know what I'm doing. Just show me somebody naked'.  Jerry Seinfeld

Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex,  no matter how bad it is. Barbara Bush

Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope.  George Burns

There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL. Lynn Lavner

At my age, being good in bed means not hogging the doona. Mark Mitchell

Dancing – the perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.

When a girl says no, she really means yes – but not with you.

The average girl would rather have beauty than brains because the average man can see better than he can think.

Why do men always have a nickname for their penis? Because they don’t want all their decisions made by a complete stranger.

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The communicator's job is to make the important,
interesting. John Howze

If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack! Winston Churchill

If you want me to speak for an hour – give me a moment’s notice; if you want me to speak for half an hour, give me a day’s notice; if you want me to speak for five minutes – give me a week. Winston Churchill

All the great speakers were bad speakers at first. Ralph Waldo Emerson

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. Thomas Jefferson

The voice is a second signature. R. I. Fitzhenry

Nothing is said that has not been said before. Terence (185-159 B.C.)

Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much. Robert Greenleaf

They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Carl W. Buechner

Be sincere; be brief; be seated. Franklin D. Roosevelt

People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. John Powell

If they haven’t heard it before, it’s original. Gene Fowler

One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say. Will Durant

Cum tacent, clamant. When they are silent, they shout. Cicero

Many a pair of curious ears had been lured by the well-timed pause. Li Ang

I deal with the obvious. I present, reiterate and glorify the obvious -- because the obvious is what people need to be told. Dale Carnegie

I do not object to people looking at their watches while I am talking. but I do strongly object when they start shaking them to make certain they are still going. Lord Birkett

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

None have a finer command of language than those who keep their mouths shut. Sam Rayburn

Research shows that approximately 40% of people are more scared of public speaking than they are of death. This means that at the average funeral 40% of those present would rather be in the coffin than give the eulogy. Jerry Seinfeld.

Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted. Fred Allen

People believe stories more readily than numbers/statistics. The hearer processes stories in three ways: intellectually,  emotionally, and visually (slides, speaker movements). Start with a story, then use a statistic or visual to emphasize/elaborate the
point. John Howze

The pause is the speaker's exclamation mark. Kevin Ryan

Oratory: The art of making deep noises from the chest sound like important messages from the brain.

75% of all statistics quoted by speakers…are made up on the spot.

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Saver’ Lines - When your funny line falls flat

I’ll just keep telling them and you pick out the ones you like.

And so, to continue in this serious vein…

Here’s another one you may not like.

(If one person is laughing) Would you be kind enough to run around the room so it looks like everyone is having fun?

(If you can refer to someone that all the audience know) That’s the last time I’m going to use one of n’s jokes.

That was a Polaroid joke – it takes one minute to get it.

Thank you for that overwhelming round of apathetic indifference.

Speakers don’t have to be funny all the time – and I just proved it!

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Show me a man with both feet on the ground and I’ll show you a man who can’t put his pants on. Arthur K Watson

It’s impossible to make anything ‘idiot-proof’ because idiots are so ingenious. Ron Burns

Some people approach every problem with an open mouth. Adalai Stevenson

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. Albert Einstein

The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. Albert Einstein

There are three kinds of people in this world - those who can count and those who can’t.

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Success is never final. Winston Churchill

Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way. Booker T Washington

Only the mediocre are always at their best. Jean Giraudoux

Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final. Roger Babson

Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever. Napoleon Bonaparte

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and whatever you hit, call it the target. Ashleigh Brilliant

Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. Ralph Waldo Emerson

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like? Jean Cocteau

If A equals success, then the formula is: A = X + Y + Z; X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut. Albert Einstein

Failure requires no preparation. The Sandman

There are two rules for success – (1) Never tell everything you know. Roger H. Lincoln

You can’t expect to win unless you know why you lose. Benjamin Lipson

Press on: nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. Calvin Coolidge (1872 - 1933)

It may be that your whole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

When all is said and done, the number of people who come to your funeral will largely be determined by the weather on the day.

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A person who trusts no one can't be trusted. Jerome Blattner

We can do no great things, only small things with great love. Mother Theresa

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. David Hare

It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust. Samuel Johnson

There is nothing in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and he who considers price only is that person's lawful prey. John Ruskin

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin Luther King/Samuel Johnson

What you really value is what you miss, not what you have. Jorge Luis Borges

Love, friendship, respect, do not unite people as much as a common hatred of something. Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), Russian writer

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.

Keep your head and your heart in the right direction and you will not have to worry about your feet.

Treat your friends as you do your pictures, place them in their best light.

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When a girl marries, she exchanges the attentions of many for the inattention of one. Helen Rowland

Marriage: friendship under difficult circumstances. Rose Scott

A man who marries a woman to educate her falls a victim to the same fallacy as the woman who marries a man to reform him. Elbert Hubbard

Marrying a man is like buying something you've been admiring for a long time in a shop window. You may love it when you get it home, but it doesn't always go with everything in the house. Jean Kerr

Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other never forgets them. Ogden Nash

All marriages are happy. It's trying to live together afterwards that causes all the problems. Shelley Winters

Marriage is not just spiritual communion, it is also remembering to take out the trash. Dr. Joyce Brothers

A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love. Pearl Buck

I think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and bought jewelry. Rita Rudner

Whenever I date a guy, I think, is this the man I want my children to spend their weekends with? Rita Rudner

Marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity. George Bernard Shaw

Marriage resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing any one who comes between them. Sydney Smith

A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway. Fr. Jerome Cummings

To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the wedding cup, whenever you're wrong, admit it; whenever you're right, shut up. Ogden Nash

The heart that loves is always young. Greek Proverb

Marriage is for life and the effect of it is for all eternity.

Success in marriage is more than finding the right person; it is being the right person.

A good marriage is the union of two forgivers.

Love doesn't make the world go 'round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. Franklin P. Jones

Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep burning, unquenchable. Henry Ward Beecher

Love, you know, seeks to make happy rather than to be happy. Ralph Connor

Don't smother each other. No one can grow in the shade. Leo F. Buscaglia

Marriage resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated, often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing anyone who comes in between them. Sydney Smith

The first duty of love is to listen. Paul Tillich

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. - Mignon McLaughlin

Marriage is not about two people looking into each other’s eyes. It’s about them standing side-by-side looking forward together.

A man needs a wife because sometimes things go wrong that you can’t blame on your boss or the government.

He/she didn’t realise what a good time was until he/she got married. And by then it was too late.

Buck’s/Hen’s Night: When you go out and have the fantastic time that you could be having every night if you weren’t getting married.

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If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Isaac Newton

There is sufficient for the world’s need, but not for the world’s greed. Gandhi

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. Mother Theresa

It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others. John Andrew Holmes

Common sense is the collection of all prejudices acquired by age eighteen. Albert Einstein

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Albert Einstein

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt. Helen Keller

People ask for criticism, but they only want praise. Somerset Maugham

An empty belly has no ears. African Proverb

It is not the horse that draws the cart, but the oats. Russian proverb

If you knew how little people thought about you – you wouldn’t worry about what they thought. The Koran

I’ve learned that bigger is not always better, and that going faster is not necessarily progress.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

At 20 we worry constantly about what others think of us
At 40 we are less concerned what others think of us
At 60 we don’t care what others think of us
At 80 we realise that they weren’t thinking about us at all

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I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis, and I don’t deserve that either. Jack Benny

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. P J O’Rourke

A friend is someone who has the same enemies you have. Abraham Lincoln

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. Mark Twain

God is a single parent.

A conference is a gathering of important people who singly can do nothing, but together can decide that nothing can be done. Fred Allen

If you are ever giving anyone feedback/advice, be sure to first ‘walk a mile in their shoes’. That way, if they don’t like what you say, you’re a mile away and they haven’t got any shoes.

I lived in such a tough neighborhood you could walk ten blocks without leaving the scene of the crime.

It’s time to diet if you look across a crowded room – and you’re the reason it’s crowded.

I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose fitting clothing. If I had any loose fitting clothing, I wouldn't have signed up in the first place!

I was so drunk the other night, I asked the taxi to pick me up on the corner of ‘Walk’ and ‘Don’t Walk’.

A baby sitter is a teenager acting like an adult while the adults are out acting like teenagers.

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