"Have you ever observed that we pay much more attention to a wise passage when it is quoted, than when we read it in the original author?"
~Philip Gilbert Hamerton, The Intellectual Life, 1873
Using quotes from literature and other sources can help you deliver your message more effectively - in your writing, in your public speaking, and even in your therapy sessions. Well-written quotations and aphorisms are sound bites of wisdom that can encapsulate a theme or drive home an important point, in ways that factual explanations often cannot.
"Problems are only opportunities in work clothes." ~ Henry Kaiser, 1950
"Never let success get to your head, and never let failure get to your heart."
"You've got to know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em" ~Don Schlitz (1978)
Where to use quotes
Aside from scholarly articles where experts are routinely quoted, we see quotes at the top of book chapters and throughout the text. You can use quotes in other communications where you want to emphasize a point, to add authority to what you say, or to inspire the audience. Here are a few examples:
Slide presentations. Starting off a presentation with a pithy quote gives your audience a common frame of reference. It also piques their curiosity as they wait for what comes next. For example, imagine beginning a presentation to a cancer support group with this quote by Nelson Mandela:
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it."
Much more effective than starting off with a list of statistics on survival, don't you think?
Tips sheets and handouts. Quotations set the theme for your topic. They need not be serious. For example, if you put this quote by the late humorist Erma Bombeck at the top of a tips sheet for parents of toddlers, it's almost guaranteed that your readers will smile and be eager to read on.
“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they're finished, I climb out.”
Your website and in your email signature. If you have a favorite inspirational quotation that reflects your core values, prominently display it on your website and under your name in your emails. When a statement is in quotation marks, people tend to pay attention to it.
Your business cards, brochures and other marketing materials. Here you can use your own quotes. Example: Under your practice name you might put, "Where your privacy and confidentiality is our top priority." It's not a quote by a historical or literary figure, but your own slogan. (No need to cite yourself.)
In therapy. Quoting a line from a song or movie can sometimes help your clients view a problem or dilemma from a fresh perspective. Of course, the song or movie should be familiar to your client.
One of my favorite quotes is from the The Karate Kid. The boy, Daniel, is watching his karate teacher, Mr. Miyagi, try to snag a fly in mid-air with a pair of chopsticks. After several unsuccessful attempts, Daniel asks him, "Ever catch one?" Mr. Miyagi replies optimistically, "Not yet."
Ideas for your blog posts, articles and presentations for the public. If you're stuck for a topic to write or speak about, peruse some famous quotations. For example, Shakespeare wrote many lines that pertain to the mind. One of these quotes may spark an idea that you can run with.
Where to find quotes
I recommend that you do not rely entirely on Google or other general search engines for finding quotations. Google search results show popular pages first. However, a web page or Pinterest board can be popular - or even viral - without being accurate. Thus, you're likely to find quotes that are misattributed, inaccurate, or simply made up.
If you do find a quote via search engine, verify it at a site that references the original source, such as Quote Investigator.
Reliable collections of quotations include:
Wikiquote - similar in format to Wikipedia, quotes are subject to peer review.
Books - Quotations Book, Bartleby, Google books, Project Gutenberg
IMDB.com - Memorable quotes from movies and TV shows
RockWisdom.com - Song lyrics from over 13,000 songs in 70 categories
News archives - News services and newspapers maintain archives of fact-checked stories with quotes
TED talks - TED.com maintains a collection of insighful remarks from their best speakers.
Bibles - Great inspirational wisdom.
A comprehensive list of links to other high-quality quotation sources is in the Yale Book of Quotations.