It’s too often either cliché ‘filler’ or an attempt to nab some glory from a far more distinguished person in the hope that a little of of sticks to the speaker.
Over at Joyful Public Speaking Richard Garber has things to say on checking that any quotations you use are accurately cited.
But what if a quotation is NOT accurate to the point of being simply made up? Why not?
It’s a good ploy is to play with the cliché of using quotations in speeches. Make up something outlandish or faux-wise that helps move your speech along. Then boldly attribute it to someone famous:
“One of Winston Churchill’s best aphorisms summed up the fleeting nature of political glory:
The flag of fame flutters high. But in the stormy wind of events it is soon frayed and forlorn!
No-one will know that you’ve made the quote up – they’ll nod with approval and smile.
At some point in the speech you can tell them that you just made that quote up, to general mirth and satisfaction at the thought that you so easily tricked them.
And then continue elaborate on flags and glory and Churchill as you choose.