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The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write It * How to Deliver It by Richard Dowis

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Literary references

References to literature can be effective openers, but the speaker must consider whether the audience is likely to be familiar with the work referred to. For example, this opening, from a speech by an executive of a forest-products company to his company's shareholders, might be lost on many audiences:

Dr. Pangloss, a character in Voltaire's Candide, was fond of the statement, "All's for the best in the best of all possible worlds."

Well, in the field of for-sale residential construction, in finance, and in many of the other areas for which I have responsibility, we are close to, if not in, the best of all possible worlds.

Whether it was lost on the shareholders may be problematic, but the lead-in from the quotation to the ...

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