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Quotations are one of a speechwriter’s essential tools — right up there with metaphors, jokes and 3 a.m. espresso. But borrowed eloquence doesn’t always work out, and as handy as a quotation can be, using it requires care.

This episode looks at how to use quotations to elevate your whole speech, and how another person’s fine words can make yours shine even brighter.

Links: I mentioned them last time, but here’s another link to Quote Investigator — one of the great services of the Internet.

And yes, Marlene Dietrich really said that. It’s from Marlene Dietrich’s ABC: Wit, Wisdom, & Recipes.

I mentioned Ambrose Bierce; he’s the author of The Devil’s Dictionary, which is filled with marvellously snarky definitions.

Music: Theme: “Good Times” by Podington Bear (

Incidental music by Lee Rosevere ( including “Bigger Questions,” “Thinking It Over,” “Start the Day,” and “Waterfront.” Used under a Creative Commons license.

Lee has released a beautiful album in honour of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary, and you can buy a limited-edition CD. I did and I’m delighted with it. Give it a listen here.