50 High-Impact Speeches

50 High-Impact Speeches & Remarks:  Proven Words You Can Adapt for Any Business Occasion


What a wonder is the human brain. It starts working even before you are born and never stops until you get up to speak in public.

This book is organized to jump start that frisky brain of yours when you need it the most. Go ahead, volunteer for that speaking assignment. The more you speak, the better your chances for success will be. Look at almost any job description. The ability to communicate is decisive. Today, the best organizations expect all their employees to be able to represent the firm in public settings. So whether you are driving a limousine, maintaining a limousine, or riding in the back of a limousine, the ability to express yourself in public is often the biggest factor in your success.


Think of this book as a toolkit for when you have to speak in public. At whatever point you are in your career, the opportunities for public speaking are endless. Whether you are going to announce the kickoff of a new project or introduce the chairman of the board at the annual meeting, this book provides model speeches and remarks to guide you. Maybe you have been asked to describe the company’s new quality initiative. Or perhaps one of the members of your team was awarded a patent and you get to say a few words of congratulations. Or maybe you are to give the keynote at a trade show. The possibilities are endless.

This is the era of the customer. The goal of every business is to get closer to the customer and, by extension, the complete value chain-associates, suppliers, partners, even occasionally competitors-on which the company’s long-range well being depends. In the era of the customer, public speaking is no longer just the job of presidents and CEOs. No matter what your job, you will from time to time find yourself being called on to speak in public.

Technology-especially Internet technology-was supposed to reduce the need for public speaking. Email, Web sites, electronic newsletters, list serves, chat rooms, blogs, and asynchronous communications of all sorts was supposed to be the great leveler. On the Internet, it was said, no one knows you are not Winston Churchill. Except it didn’t work out like that. The Internet didn’t replace the need for public communications. If anything, electronic communications have raised the ante for public speaking. Everyone is now expected to know how to meet the demands of public moments. Today, business people are expected to know how to talk to cameras-what to wear, how to move, and where to put their hands. Of course, the actual talking part is the trick. That’s where this book comes in.

This book organizes 50 of the world’s most effective business speeches and remarks. Each of these speeches and remarks responds to a common business situation that from time to time confronts every member of an organization. Companies prosper. Or they don’t. Factories open. Factories close. Products are successful. Products fizzle. Employees get promoted. Employees get terminated. Employees get married and have babies. Employees get sick and die. Every business cycle is accompanied by events in the human life cycle. All of these events demand a public response from someone and that someone may be you. Leaders become leaders by saying the right thing at these often difficult occasions. This book shows you how some of the most successful leaders of the past 50 years have handled similar challenges.

Perhaps the strongest feature of this book is that every speech has been tested in the field. You will recognize many of the names associated with these speeches. But whether a speech was presented by a celebrity CEO like Jack Welch and Lee Iacocca or given by a lesser known executive, the speech is by virtue of its structure a cut above the competition. These are the speeches that teach us most about communicating in public.

You may be asking, what’s the difference between a business speech and business remarks? Simply put, it’s a matter of formality and length. There is no bright line separating the two. A speech implies a formal address which a speaker delivers to a group assembled for that purpose. Length is also a factor, with business speeches usually running from 15 minutes to an hour or more. Examples of business speeches would be the CEO’s address to investors at the annual meeting or the vice president of engineering introducing a new product at a trade conference.

Business remarks, by contrast, are usually a casual or brief expression of opinion or a comment on something that needs to be commented on. Remarks can be off-the-cuff in a way that speeches can’t. For that reason, are generally considered less authoritative. They are, however, no less important for rarely having a life beyond their immediate purpose. Successful managers and executives have to be masters of both. Finally, remarks are generally much shorter than speeches.

Speeches are often considered news and because they are picked up by journalists, great care goes into their preparation. Until a few years ago, many organizations had professional speechwriters on staff to assist executives with their speeches. In the age of corporate belt-tightening, speechwriters were usually the first to go. Today, all but the top executives are on their own when it comes time to give a speech. This book responds to that need.