To be precise, MY treasure chest !
While looking around for sources of inspiring quotes to sparkle my speeches , I found a formidable trio in George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain. A Public Speaker can safely attribute any interesting quote to any of these three and get away with it !
I regularly dip into these masters for inspiration and realise I use Mark Twain the most. On the 100th death anniversary of this prolific author, playwright,wit and humorist, here is my thank you note.
You Google Samuel Clemens or Mark Twain and can spend the rest of your life poring over the amazing variety of his offerings. Here, I list my favourite quotes and how I’ve used them for the past twenty five years.
I start my Presentation Skills session with ” How many of you feel nervous before making a speech in public ?” Normally, most of them put up their hands. I then compliment them with ” Great ! You have excellent company ! As Mark Twain said – there are only two types of speakers in this world. those that are nervous and those that are liars !”. After the laughter dies down, I assure them it is normal to be nervous and proceed. I’ve noticed that this demystifies the topic and prepares the audience for a fun filled learning experience.
The next question I ask is ‘what prevents you from standing up to speak in public ?” and the answer is ” what if i make a fool of myself ?” Again, I call Twain to help with “ I guess all of you believe that “it is better to keep your mouth shut and let people wonder whether you are a fool rather than open it and remove all doubt !”
To highlight the importance of preparation, I use ” It usually takes me three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech !”
Whenever my Toastmaster friends complain that they find it very difficult to come up with a good response in Table Topics or Impromptu speaking session, who else but Mark Twain comes to my help with “ Repartee is something that we think of twenty four hours too late !”
In my ‘Communication”workshop, I stress the importance of ACCURACY with this gem – “the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug !”
And for Brevity ” No sinner is ever saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon !” This is one of my favourite quips !
I frequently get introduced as Uncle or Grandfather in an obviously oblique reference to my age and I respond with “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. “
While handling cross cultural negotiations, I caution my audience not to excessively depend on books but talk to their superiors and colleagues who may give practical insights
and use this analogy- “be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint !”
When people ask me about my job as a trainer being stressful, I reply ” Not really as I am not asked to practise what I preach and quote the master “To be good is noble; but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble !”
In sessions on leadership skills, some recurring themes are – self esteem and appreciation and I use “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” to get the participants to like themselves and focus on their strengths.
Most associates in a workplace long for appreciation more than financial incentives and I urge managers to offer genuine praise as a great motivator and this quote illustrates it so well !
“I can live for three months on a sincere compliment” .
And this is one of the most inspiring quotes that I’ve ever used –
“Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”
I am sure his writings will continue to be relevant for many more centuries !
Thank you for making my Speaking sessions so meaningful !