2. Welcome speech

Welcome speech

How to prepare an opening address in 4 easy steps

By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 09-10-2019 | First published: 02-01-2008

Find out just how straight-forward writing a welcome speech is by watching the video. It's an overview of the process you'll use and the resources available to you on this page.

Understanding the function of a welcome speech

Before you write it's a really good idea to have a handle on what a welcome speech does, or its functions. There are several.

The most obvious is that it signals the start of any special event or occasion requiring a formal opening.  For instance a meeting, a lecture, a workshop, or a celebration could all be officially opened with a welcome speech. 

Image-cross section of a crowd. Text: A good welcome speech unites the audience, setting the tone for an event.

Tone setting - starting as you mean to go on

A less obvious function is how a welcome speech sets the tone for an event. The words chosen, how they are structured and delivered all come together to create tone. 

Get tone wrong, and it's a disaster.

(Yes, that's a little bit of hyperbole but I'm sure you get the idea!)

Get it right, and it's a triumph!

Everyone appreciates it and you're asked to do many more welcome speeches because you've demonstrated how good you are!

Process & resources

You'll find everything you need here to deliver an excellent welcome speech: notes on language choice (tone setting), a speech template, a sample speech, a blank downloadable speech outline planner, as well as extra tips on writing and rehearsing.

Here's your 4 easy steps. Click a link to:

  1. Use the easily adaptable template to ensure you cover off everything you need to.
  2. Read the sample speech.
  3. Download and complete the greeting address planner.
  4. Write, using the notes you made in the plan outline.

Getting the focus and tone right

The focus is always the audience and your goal is to make them look forward to whatever is coming next. You are uniting and bringing them together in the common purpose at the heart of the occasion.

To strike the right tone in the language you use consider the audience and the event itself.

Graphic. Text: tone - how to choose the right words. Informal v formal

Is it a fun event? Or is it a serious event?

Think about the common interest everybody shares - their reason for coming together at the event. This will give you clues to guide your language choice.

What is appropriate?

Is it formal language, informal or somewhere in between?

Is this an informal "Gidday, howzitgoin?" or a formal "Good morning, how lovely to see you" event?

Do spend some time thinking it through. Getting it wrong can be very embarrassing for everyone. If in doubt, ask!

1. The foundation or speech template

To be effective, to fulfill its purpose, your speech must meet expected, as well as specific, requirements dictated by the occasion.

Standard welcome speech content ingredients

Welcome speech recipe. Graphic: retro woman reading recipe book.

The essential ingredients or elements to cover in your opening remarks are:

  • to specifically acknowledge and welcome any important guests
  • to generally welcome all the guests, stating the name of the event and its host and to thank them for coming
  • to give a brief introduction of the host (the business, organization, family or person)
  • to give a brief introduction of the occasion
  • to introduce the next speaker if appropriate
  • to conclude having made everybody feel at ease, eagerly anticipating what is to come

This forms a basic welcome speech template. Pick, and alter, the elements you need to suit your occasion.

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2. Welcome speech sample

Now let's put all the elements above into some simple, effective, opening remarks you can adapt for your own use.

*(The speech is pure fiction! I made it up to show you how it's done. You'll see its tone is formal rather than informal as fits the occasion.)

Example welcome speech - "Readers by Right"

"Sue-Ellen Thomas, Jim Smith, Jane Brown and all of our guests, welcome.

My name is April Molloy, and it's my privilege and pleasure on behalf of Parents United to welcome you here today.

We are delighted to have you with us to participate and share in our 5th annual Children's Day. Thank you for coming. That many of you have traveled long distances to be here serves as a reminder to us all just how important our work is.

Quote extract: We want all children, regardless of race, creed or circumstance to achieve their full potential.

Parents United is committed to actively raising the quality of life for every child. We want all children, regardless of race, creed or circumstance to achieve their full potential. Our task is to make it possible. Our mission is to provide practical, step by step assistance.

This year our theme is literacy. We've named the day 'Readers by Right'.

Thanks to the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights we are aware of 'rights' in many spheres, including education. That agreement declared in Article 26 education should be compulsory and free for children.

That goal, is as pertinent today as it was then. It's a goal I know we all share - the full development of every child. As a body Parents United recognizes good reading skills established in childhood as the foundation of fulfilling, and ongoing education.

Quote extract: Jim and Jane bring their passion and knowledge of how to reach those in our communities who are frequently overlooked or bypassed.

We are honored to have Sue-Ellen Thomas, Jim Smith and Jane Brown with us today. All three are esteemed specialists in teaching young children to read.

Sue-Ellen has worked for many years with educational authorities to establish programs that put in place the necessary pre-reading skills. Her efforts need no introduction. The results speak for themselves.

Jim and Jane bring their passion and knowledge of how to reach those in our communities who are frequently overlooked or bypassed. Their work among English-as-a-second-language families has bridged gaps that were deep dark chasms.

Prepare yourself to be challenged, excited and inspired.

And before I handover to Lesley Watts, our coordinator for 'Readers by Right', who will outline the day's events, I want to say once more on behalf of the Parents United organizing committee, welcome. It's wonderful to see so many of you here." 

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3. Get your welcome speech started

Save yourself time

Shortcut wondering "Should I say this?" or 

"Maybe I should say that?" and, "Then again there's also ..."

I have a very simple solution for you.

Get yourself a welcome speech planner

Image: cross section of an audience. Text: download a welcome speech planner

Download and print my special greeting address planner.

It includes ALL the necessary ingredients you've just read about that go into preparing a successful speech. It's simple to use and easily filled out. Once it's done writing your speech will be a lot less hassle as you'll have the core content ready to work with.

Image - horizontal line -red and green

Psst ...

If you are really stuck for time and need a welcome speech very quickly, I have a solution.  Check my speech builder out. 

Image - Button- Text- No time? Get an original speech in minutes using our speech builder. Read more.

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Get a hand with vocabulary

And if you'd like a hand with words to use, click the link to find a large selection of adaptable welcoming phrases with samples.

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4. Write

 Tips to help you get your writing right

  • Ensure you've got the names of all the special guests you need to mention specifically and, that you know how to pronounce them.
  • Double check the remarks you're going to make about your guests are factually correct.
  • Use your introduction of them/or the event, as a "teaser" for what is going to come. It will help create anticipation in the audience. Don't ruin it by giving too much away! Just enough to tempt and no more. 
  • Unless you've been requested to do otherwise, keep it brief. One to two minutes is generally sufficient.

Use the S-S-S formula for success: Short, Simple and Sincere. Your listeners will appreciate it.

Graphic: The SSS speech formula. Short, Simple and Sincere.

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Related very helpful pages

Help rehearsing your welcome speech

Get step by step instructions on how to rehearse including how to make and use cue cards.

And please do rehearse. It makes a huge difference! You'll sound, and look better. Taking the time to rehearse shows respect for yourself, the audience and the event. Truly.

Help to manage pre-speech jitters

Nervous? If you're shaking in your boots at the thought of having to speak in front of an audience, click overcoming public speaking fear for assistance. Take your time. Follow the steps and you will be fine.

Help with other types of welcome speeches

Or perhaps you need welcome to the family speeches or a church welcome speech sample? Click the links to find easily adaptable examples.