And You Can Quote Me!

( My response to a recent LinkedIn Group discussion question that asked about the value of using quotes in presentations.)

I regularly use a lot of quotes in my training, speaking and writing. However, I’m adamant about putting the sources in proper context. Few people are so well known that they don’t need any reference, like Jefferson, Mark Twain, Churchill, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. For the rest, we need to answer the question the readers or listeners often have – ‘So, who is that guy?’

It doesn’t take much time or effort to go beyond just listing ‘Tom Peters’ to ‘Tom Peters, contemporary American management expert & author of ‘In Search of Excellence‘ Same goes for ‘Oscar Wilde, 19th century Irish poet, playwright & novelist’, ‘Voltaire, 18th century French writer, historian & philosopher’ and ‘Jerry Clower, 1926 – 1998, American humorist & writer’.

Not adding that information can weaken the value of the quote, because who said it may be more important than what he or she said. When listeners or readers encounter quotes without context, they might assume the writer or speaker was too lazy or indifferent to find out that information or assumed everyone knew who that person was  …  possibly making people feel stupid when they don’t.

So, harness the power of using quotes effectively, but take the extra effort to put them in context.. And you can quote me!