How To Open A Speech #21: The List Open

This is an excerpt from my new book, 101 Ways to Open a Speech, now available at Amazon.

The list open bears a resemblance to the multiple vignettes open, but its purpose is slightly different. It places less emphasis on any single event and lists many more of them, its goal being to leave an overall impression of quantity.

Memorial services after a public tragedy often begin this way, with a reading of the names of the victims. Although television viewers may not remember any of the people’s names, they will remember—and be moved by—the sheer number of victims.

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This device has many applications in more common presentation settings. A speaker discussing how difficult it is to open a successful restaurant might begin by referring to an infamous “cursed” location for dining establishments in New York City.

“Le Premier. Bistro Pascal. Gnolo. Moon’s. John Clancy’s East. Lolabelle. Napa Valley Grill. Tucci. Tucci No. 2. Peaches. Il Patrizio. Haikara Grill. Smokin’ Q. Those restaurants were all located at 206 East 63rd Street. From 1977 to 2011, that address was home to 13 different restaurants. One would come in, fail; another would try, fail; and on and on it went for 34 years. That might be an extreme case, but that cycle of failure after failure is all too common for restaurateurs. Today, I’ll talk about how to break that cycle. But first, it’s worth mentioning that 206 East 63rd Street has finally been put out of its misery. In 2011, it became a Buddhist monastery.”

A business consultant discussing the challenges of opening a retail store might begin with the “to-do list” a new owner has to accomplish. A dance instructor could list the impressive number of steps a new class will learn by the end of the semester. A politician might list the number of issues he or she will have to vote on during the new legislative session.

This is an excerpt from my new book, 101 Ways to Open a Speech, now available at Amazon. You can read more about the book here