Editor’s note: This story first appeared on PR Daily in April.
I’m a bit of a word nerd.
I jot down every good media-training quote I hear. I occasionally get to use one of the witty quotes in a speech or training session.
Too many of the quotes just sit, unused, in a computer file, but they shall remain unused no longer. Here are 20 of my favorite media training quotes:
Media interview quotes
1. “Does anyone have any questions for my answers?” —Henry Kissinger
2. “It is always a risk to speak to the press: They are likely to report what you say.” —Hubert H. Humphrey
3. “The most guileful amongst the reporters are those who appear friendly and smile and seem to be supportive. They are the ones who will seek to gut you on every occasion.” —Ed Koch, former mayor of New York
4. “The questions don’t do the damage. Only the answers do.” —Sam Donaldson
5. “No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause. —Mark Twain
6. “An orator or author is never successful till he has learned to make his words smaller than his ideas.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
7. “This business of saying the same thing over and over and over again—which to a lot of Washington insiders and pundits is boring—works.” —Michael Deaver, deputy chief of staff to President Reagan
Message development quotes
8. “I am sorry for such a long letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one.” —Mark Twain (also attributed to others)
9. “Short words are the best, and old words, when short, are the best of all.” —Winston Churchill
Crisis communications quotes
10. “By the time you hear the thunder, it’s too late to build the ark.” —Unknown
11. “It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only a few seconds to destroy one.” —Unknown
12. “If it’s going to come out eventually, better have it come out immediately.” —Henry Kissinger
13. “Always acknowledge a fault frankly. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you opportunity to commit more.” —Mark Twain
14. “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” —Theodore Roosevelt
15. “A mediocre speech supported by all the power of delivery will be more impressive than the best speech unaccompanied by such power.” —Quintilian, Roman rhetorician
16. “Three things matter in a speech: who says it, how he says it, and what he says —and of the three, the last matters least.” —John Morley, British politician
17. “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” —Mark Twain
18. “According to most studies, people’s No. 1 fear is public speaking. No. 2 is death. Death is No.2! Now, this means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” —Jerry Seinfeld
Body language and delivery
19. “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
20. “It is better to speak from a full heart and an empty head than from a full head and an empty heart.” —Dublin Opinion magazine (h/t Dianna Daniels Booher)
For 10 more quotes about media training and public speaking, visit the Mr. Media Training Blog. Brad Phillips is the author of the Mr. Media Training Blog and president of Phillips Media Relations, which specializes in media and presentation training. He tweets at @MrMediaTraining.