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May 7, 2015

Why All Good Presenters Use Quotes

The Science Behind Quotes and How to Use Them: 8 Benefits, 5 Tips + Bonus

Quotations not only serve to reinforce your claims and boost your credibility, but they also have the potential to stimulate the mind and unlock a more intimate connection with your audience.
A great quote encapsulates an idea or thought, it can clarify, enlighten or inspire. It can also motivate your audience to get on board with you as the power of a thought elegantly and memorably expressed can have far reaching repercussions. When Buffer-cofounder, Leo Widrich started marketing his products through the use of stories, his sales went through the roof. Science reveals that stories, poems and quotes have something uniquely in common in establishing a connection with the listener. In this article, we will examine the science behind why you want to use quotes including 8 benefits of why you can’t afford not to use quotes and 5 tips and a bonus on how to use them most effectively in your presentation.

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Why Quotes Will Help You: How the Brain Reacts

To understand why quotes are useful in the first place, let’s examine how the audience reacts during a presentation. PowerPoint presentations that are heavy with information activate two parts of the brain called the Broca’s area and the Wernicke’s area. These parts of the brain process language, which decodes words into meaning. That’s all that occurs: a simple decoding process.
The brain however, reacts much differently when we listen to stories. Not only do the language areas of our brain light up, but so do other parts of the brain that we use when we experience events. Leo Widrich explains that, “if someone tells us about how delicious certain foods were, our sensory cortex lights up. If it’s about motion, our motor cortex gets active. A story can put your whole brain to work.”
Our experiences like the smell of coffee in the morning or the softness of our cotton bed sheets are all registered events in our brain. When we then hear a story, a part of the brain called the insula gets busy searching for similar experiences. The insula is involved in consciousness and plays a role in diverse functions linked to emotion, which allows us to relate to others joy, pain or success.
This is why stories, metaphors, images and quotes work so well. It’s because our brain automatically links our existing experience with other experiences, thus actively engaging the brain with new content. Thus, if you incorporate a captivating quote with a powerful image in your presentation, your audience will make connections automatically.

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Why You Can’t Afford Not to Use Quotes: 10 Benefits

  1.  Reinforce Your Ideas. Quotes are a second voice in your presentation that can strengthen your arguments, claims and ideas. Usually a quote is either prevailing because of who said it or because of the impact of the quote itself. A simple idea said by someone well-known may influence the audience to view a subject in a fresh light.
  2.  Boost Your Credibility. Give your audience reassurance that you are an expert in the field, that you are a researcher, that you have domain knowledge and that you know what’s current. Quoting other experts also shows that you are prepared and acknowledges other people’s work that may in turn reinforce your own claims.
  3.  Inspire. Whatever you are presenting on, your goal should be to inspire and make your audience excited about your ideas, plans, products etc. What better way to accomplish this than using an inspirational quote that reaffirms your position? Put that cherry on top.
  4.  Launch Ideas. Inspiring quotes may also entice your audience to come up with new ideas or fresh ways of taking on a project or solving problems. Consider using quotes in group settings for brainstorming and coming up with fresh ideas.
  5. Lead the way. Guide your audience to a certain framework or path. Sometimes it is especially helpful to use quotes to address a problem indirectly and motivate your team members to overcome obstacles.
  6. Summarize. Quotes can also bring a nice summary to your claims. Bring your conclusions back to square one and reaffirm what you’ve just told your audience.
  7. Add variety. Let’s face it, long, heavy duty, information-packed presentations need some wakeup calls now and then. Why not insert a little inspiring, thought provocation in-between? Refrain from becoming too dry and add some variety!
  8.  Be Memorable. Quotations are usually in a concise and memorable format. (That’s why we use quotations in the first place, right?)

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How to and How Not to Use Quotes: Pick your Choice

  1. Opening your speech with a quote may be very effective as you can use this to captivate your audience right from the beginning (and we all know how important the start of a speech is). However, take caution when choosing your quote here. Make sure it’s relevant to what you will be talking about and that it is a strong quote. There is nothing more annoying than a disorganized and poorly thought-out speech.
  2.  Quoting in the body of your speech can be the most useful as it can reinforce your claims and provide additional support for your ideas. A good place to use a quote may be at the end of a topic as to top off your argument. You may also choose to shift in-between topics with a quote. A quote in the middle adds variety and makes your overall presentation more enjoyable.
  3. Avoid closing your speech with a quote, for the simple reason that you should be able to trust that your own words are strong enough to convey the final thought of your argument. Closing with someone else’s words can allude to insecurity and lack of confidence in your stand-point. It is okay to use a quote towards the end of your speech, especially if it refers to your overall message or ties back to the beginning of your speech, but your final words should always be your own. Consider that this is how the audience will remember you.
  4. Be Creative. Have fun with the way you deliver your quote. You may set it up to create suspense to your next topic or you may want to choose a quote that adds humor to your speech, but be careful about getting off topic here.
  5. Take a Break and get a drink. Use quotes to the best of your advantage too! If you have a slide with a quote and a strong visual image, let the audience read the quote themselves. (You shouldn’t read from your slides anyway). This gives you a moment to breathe and grab some water before continuing to speak.

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Bonus:

  • Before your presentation, warm up your audience by letting them read some quotes as they walk-in and sit down. Be in a positive light even before your presentation begins! You can simply do this by having PowerPoint run through loop slides of funny, impactful and inspiring quotes. Make the most of your quote collection.

The short words that make up a quote are actually just the tip of the iceberg that serves to enthuse and give evidence to the mass of content which lies beneath the surface. Take advantage of savvy quotes in regard to business, marketing, customer service, innovation, leadership, creativity, change, motivation, sales, success and teamwork. Boost your speech and upgrade your presentation with the highest design quality for PowerPoint presentations at PresentationLoad – download over 250 quotes for FREE!

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Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Excellent and extremely interesting and inspiring article. Thank you!

    Reply

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