Say It With a One-Liner

“The most important words we’ll ever utter are those words we say to ourselves, about ourselves, when we’re by ourselves.” Al Walker spoke that one sentence in a speech at the National Speakers Association annual meeting over 25 years ago. This idea in one sentence I’ve remembered and thought about often since that time. I don’t remember his speech, but I remember that one line. Improve your depth and perhaps entertainment value by including a one-liner in your next presentation. Look for simple one-liners or one-sentence thoughts that relate to your topic and use at least one or two in each speech. These can also be humorous. For example, Jon Bon Jovi said in an interview, “My wife tells me if I ever decide to leave, she’s coming with me.” This usually elicits a smile and maybe a chuckle. The benefit of the humorous one-liner is if no one thinks it funny but you, your embarrassment is minimal. This concept is also what makes some movies memorable. Of course, we all remember the line in “Gone With the Wind:”  “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Or in “Cool Hand Luke:” “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Here are a few others I have found in various sources. A poster on a bulletin board in an area junior high school read, “Laugh and the class laughs with you; but you go the principal’s office alone.” When asked why he thought he had lived so long, Norman Vincent Peale, in his nineties, replied, “I never lost my curiosity.” Joe Polish wrote, “Everything measured improves; everything measured and recorded improves exponentially.” Watch for significant lines as you read. In The Spring, a sign on the sheriff’s office wall read, “Be optimistic, even in the face of reality.” I often end my speech on “Never Stop Dancing” with this line from a member of the Inuit tribe who was known for moving into areas where the ice was dangerously thin and bringing back the largest catch. His philosophy? “If you are going to walk on thin ice, you might as well dance.”

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively. Contact Steve today for priority scheduling! (859) 866-5693 or email

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