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Use the Perfect Quote

Master_Presenters know that finding the perfect quote often jumpstarts their creativity. The quote illustrates exactly what you need to write about and/or talk about, or the quote gives you another way to organize the content. No wonder so many books, speeches, and presentations, or different sections within a presentation, start with just the right quote. The right quote sets just the right tone, evokes just the right feeling, and simplifies our understanding. This helps us grasp the deeper meaning and, at the same time, makes the presentation more memorable. The perfect quote can also be used as a unifying device to tie everything together at the right point within the presentation and at its conclusion.

Quotations are tremendous tools. They can help build your confidence in your presentation, boost your credibility, give you direction, and help you focus your presentation—but only if you remember where you saw it or heard it. Has the following ever happened to you: "I know of a great quote that would tie everything together perfectly, but I just can't quite remember the exact words"? Or, "I remember the words, but I forget who said it"? When this happens, you either scrap the quote or embark on a time-consuming search that often turns up empty handed.

In the past, Master_Presenters had books and books of excellent quotes such as Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. While these books still serve us well, today's Master_Presenters have computer programs that can help them find just the right quote by subject matter or by author, and allow them to enter their own favorite quotes so they can be easily retrieved.

For example, Brad developed a program on effective communication for the Association of Health Organizations. They had seven people who could deliver the program. They were very happy with the program and he was extremely pleased with the quality of the people who would be delivering it. When they were all satisfied that the program would meet their needs and the trainers were prepared, the director asked if there were a few good quotes that could help them better market their new training module.

Brad had been collecting quotes and had entered them in a folder, but this was very time consuming. As their numbers grew, it became increasingly difficult to identify and retrieve the ones he wanted, so he turned to computer software (PowerPlugs: Quotations by CrystalGraphics) for help. The result was a job that normally would have taken days to complete, took only minutes.

The computer program quickly found 127 quotes on communications. From those, Brad made the following seven selections:

Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

—Anonymous

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become your character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

—Frank Outlaw, author

No one ever lost his job by listening too much.

—Calvin Coolidge, 30th U.S. President

We must never forget that the most powerful communication isn't what you say, it's what you do. What counts, in the final analysis, is not what people are told but what they accept. It is this concept of the role of communication in industry that characterizes effective leadership.

—Frank E. Fischer, American Management Association

The most important thing in communication is to bear what isn't being said.

—Peter F. Drucker, management professor

The two words "information" and "communication" are often used inter-changeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.

—Sydney J. Harris, journalist, author

Effective communication is 20 percent what you know and 80 percent how you feel about what you know.

—E. James (Jim) Rohn, speaker, trainer, author

These quotes were perfect for the training program because they emphasize the need for effective communication. Although this program isn't perfect, it sure beats trying to look up quotes or trying to locate that perfect quote when you just can't remember where you saw it. You can also enter your favorite new quote and you will know where to find it each and every time. Therefore, if you want to find the perfect quote, stimulate your thinking, and add focus and direction to your presentation, you may want to consider a computerized quotation program.

Other excellent sources for quotes are David's two favorite quotation books: Simpson's Contemporary Quotations: The Most Notable Quotes Since 1950 by James B. Simpson and Words of Wisdom: More Good Advice by William Safire and Leonard Safir.


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