It never hurts to quote famous people or well-known literary works when making a speech. If you read widely as I recommend you do, you will have a never-ending supply of material that you can use to spice up your presentation.
It is easy to grab a few quotes from a book of quotations, but the problem with that approach is that you will not be reading the words in context. I use quote books in my speech preparation, but it is rare for me to use the words of a writer or speaker whom I have not become familiar with by reading several of their works. If you know the writer or speaker from your personal reading, you are less likely to embarrass yourself by quoting someone out of context.
As you read the works of others, you will find that they too employ well-chosen quotes. Read through a book of presidential speeches for instance and you will find frequent references to the Bible, the founding fathers, Aesop’s fables and so on.
Indeed, one may even prepare a presentation assembled entirely around the words of a well-known person. For instance a brief speech concerning religion might be built upon three quotes gleaned from the wisdom of G. K. Chesterton as follows:
(Introduction) Many decry the place of religion in today’s world. They say that religion is elitist, fanciful and parochial. Nothing could be further from the truth. True religion imparts equality, reality and universality.
(1) G. K. Chesterton once said that with true “religion all men are equal as all pennies are equal, because the only value in any of them is that they bear the image of the king.” Indeed, there is no overcoming the valuation of the sovereign; nor should there be any attempt to do so.
Mankind was created in the image of God – male and female created He them. Real religion demands the recognition of the equality of man. Real religion is blind to race, culture, ethnicity or gender. It has been said that the ground is level at the foot of the cross – that no one can claim special privilege before Christ the king. True religion is not characterized by elitism but by equality.
(2) Yet this is not to say that true religion demeans Humankind. Rather true religion ” . . . is the thing that makes the ordinary man feel extraordinary” as Chesterton said. What greater boost to the esteem of a man or a woman than to realize that they are royalty. Consider how the heart of the downcast might be uplifted as they reflect upon their status. They are not merely a meaningless collection of molecules but an image bearer of the omnipotent Creator. I saw a slogan on a child’s sweatshirt one time that put it ungrammatically but accurately; “God don’t make no junk.”
At the same time those who have achieved greatness in this life will have their pride tempered by the realization that they are no better – or worse – than the “average man.” “John Doe” is no less a man than they and those who have achieved much in this world will understand Chesterton when he says that “religion is the thing that makes the extraordinary man feel ordinary.” Truly, Christianity allows a man to see who he really is. It energizes his self esteem – it moderates his enthusiasm.
(3) Finally, true religion brings unity where unity might not otherwise exist – universality in an otherwise fractured world. Humankind is naturally partisan – naturally tribal. Nonetheless, Chesterton reminds us that, “(a)bove all else it must be remembered that when the interests of an age are religious they must be universal. Nothing can be more universal than the universe.” To embrace true religion requires a recognition of the unity of all things in God – not as God but under God. We pledge allegiance to the flag as representing “one nation under God.”
Not a destruction of the individual but a brotherhood that encompasses the entire created realm. Far from being divisive, true religion accepts the brotherhood of man – and indeed – the brotherhood of all of creation. The tree, the fish, the wolf – all are part of the universal. True religion accepts that no part of creation may ruin another – not because we worship the creation but because we worship the Creator.
(Conclusion) Equality, reality and universality are the characteristics of true religion. To deny this is to refuse the obvious. The wars, the conflicts, the strife that has often characterized religious ebullience cannot be our criterion for judgment. Instead we proclaim that true religion reveals the equality of Man, opens his eyes to reality and creates an atmosphere of universality.
The point is that you could pick three (or more) quotes from your favorite famous person and allow their words to direct your research and writing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this – as long as you don’t simply repeat what other people have said and claim it as your own original work. The truth is it can be fun to have a man of renown such as Chesterton (Dickens, Washington, the Apostle Paul and so on), guide you in your speech preparation.