Abraham Lincoln had a view on persuasion that is very pertinent to public speaking
Any speaker who hopes to achieve his purpose in speaking must present a cause or plan which his audience considers sensible and helpful to their interests. Abraham Lincoln said no amount of persuasion could get a man to sit in church with his wife’s hat on his head. People will not accept and act upon ideas which will make them appear foolish.
So logical material, containing plenty of good “horse sense,” should be used to convince people. The mind of a listener must be won before he will give much desired action.
In addition to illustrations, two other valuable types of supporting material can be tried when appealing persuasively to listeners’ minds. These two forms of evidence are quotations and facts.
A quotation is the exact words someone has written or said. In a speech, Conquer Your Fear, a student speaker quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
On nearly every subject one or more important people have contributed opinions. Many of these opinions have been re¬corded in dictionaries of quotations. One dictionary, selected at random, contains two hundred seventy quotations about love. Shakespeare, Lamb, Milton, Irving, Victor Hugo, Longfellow, Walt Whitman, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and many others have left ideas about this subject.
Of course many subjects receive less attention-,.but some such as education and religion, get more. Quotations are frequently found in books or magazine articles on various subjects. One copy of a readers’ guide, which covered a period of six years, listed the titles of about twenty-five thousand articles on airplanes and closely related subjects, two hundred ninety-five on family life, two hundred twenty-four on accidents, seventy-six on love, sixty-three about attitudes, forty-five on faith, forty-two on mice, thirty-three on cheese, twenty-four on monkeys, and twenty-six on Marilyn Monroe.
The most effective quotations to use in a speech are those made by recognized authorities. For instance, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle (and others) on philosophy. Einstein on science. Emily Post on etiquette, the Mayo brothers on surgery, Caruso on singing, Emerson and Shakespeare on almost anything.
These people, and many others, have earned reputations in their fields. They are well-known as experts. And their words are convincing. They help people believe. People are inclined to think, if such a wise man as Einstein, Emerson, or Plato said it, it must be true!
There are certain things to consider when looking to use quotation in public speaking – check out my next post to find out what they are. In the meantime if you are wanting to become a better presenter at work or public speaker check out our free 7 day e-course on speaking with confidence to any size audience by entering your email into the box to the right.