Good quotes are conversational, not canned

I was reading an article about the late Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the Moon, and was taken by the last paragraph of a statement issued by his family:

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

I love this statement. It’s simple, heart-warming, and reflects Armstrong’s passion and humble personality. It acknowledges the loss of a true hero and simultaneously brings a smile to your face.

The statement also jumped out because it offers a stark contrast to the highfalutin, jargon-filled language so common in today’s business and political world. You know the ones I mean. Those that speak of dedication and commitment to the mission, valuable assets, or strategic plans.

Quotes should be, above all, human. The reader/listener should feel that the statement is spoken to them, from one person to another. Just like the Armstrong statement.

Just for kicks, let’s look at some memorable lines from literature, film, and advertising that are rewritten in this over-the-top, corporate speak:

Nike
Rather than spending considerable time in the planning and analysis phases, we recommend you simply begin your chosen activity.

The Terminator
Upon successful completion of my assignment, I shall return to continue our one-on-one interaction.

Jaws
Based on some newly-acquired data, it’s highly likely that this task will require a larger, more substantial vessel.

Moby Dick
It would be most appropriate to reference me by my generally accepted moniker, Ismail.

Wizard of Oz
Toto, my canine associate, it appears that after a thorough investigation and analysis of the current situation, the only logical conclusion we can arrive at is that we are no longer in our domicile of Kansas.

Three Musketeers
We together combined to form a single, cohesive unit, which in-turn benefits each contributor individually.

I bet you can add some, too. Let’s hear them …

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