40 Phrases to Guide You to Greatness in Speaking

Ready to let these phrases guide me while onstage in Elko, Nevada

Ready to let these phrases guide me while onstage in Elko, Nevada

Five years ago I sent out 25 phrases to guide you to greatness in speaking. Today, you get 40.

I strongly suggest that you keep these phrases where you can see them, because internalizing them can dramatically and automatically drive you to greatness in speaking. If you’re very serious about speaking, discuss the list with other speakers. This reflection exercise can lead to lots of breakthroughs in your speaking.

Note: Most of the phrases are mine but I’ve included a few guests phrase-makers as well.



  1. “Let your long road lead to their shortcut.”
  2. “You can’t rush and resonate.”
  3. “Don’t add humor; uncover it.”
  4. “Speak to one but look to all.”
  5. “Tease them before you tell them.”
  6. “Stories must be true but they don’t have to be factual.” Michael Hauge
  7. “Speak like you talk, not like you write.”
  8. “Put the process, not the person, on a pedestal.”
  9.  “When you lift yourself up, you let your audience down.”
  10. “Condense to connect.”
  11. “Come across as similar, not special.”
  12. “The phrase determines what stays.”
  13. “When you squeeze your information in, you squeeze your audience out.” Old speaker proverb
  14. “No phrase, no stage”
  15. “What’s loose is lost”
  16.  “If you take us through the problem, then take us through the payoff.”
  17. “Conflict is the hook and dialogue is the heart”
  18.  “Let your story become their story”
  19. “What you pick up in the Cure (the Cure scene), you hand them out the door”
  20. “Don’t tell; ask”
  21. “Sell the belief before the relief.”
  22. “The more specific and visible the goal, the stronger the story.” Michael Hauge
  23. “Don’t be the Guru of your own story.”
  24. “Don’t create a message without first creating a mess.”
  25. “What gets recorded gets rewarded.”
  26. “Too many speakers try to get across too much information in too little time.”
  27. “Never sell a product, always sell the result.”
  28. “Put the result before the resource (or request).”
  29.  “Never close your speech with the Q & A.”
  30. “Show it before you say it.”
  31. “People buy into what they help create.”
  32. “Give a hint and let your audience fill in the rest.”
  33. “It’s the look before and after the line that makes the line.”
  34. “Don’t just establish conflict, escalate it.”
  35. “Reactions tell the story.” Darren LaCroix
  36. “The bigger the obstacles, the more emotional your story.” Michael Hauge
  37. “Don’t tell us, take us.” Mark Brown
  38. “Don’t speak for standing ovations, speak for standing invitations.”
  39. “Check the VAKS.”
  40. “People remember best what they hear first and last.”


Bonus phrase (from my son Ace): “When the chips are down…eat them!”



I’d love to hear from you to see what are some of the phrases that guide you in speaking? Feel free to share some of your own phrases too!






Craig Valentine

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