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 ...