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How to write a good welcome speech

Effective opening remarks step by step

By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 09-16-2022

So you're going to give the welcome speech for an event. Congratulations! And now you want to be doubly-sure you get it right.

You'll find everything you need here: a complete step by step guide to help you write and deliver a good welcome speech.

What's on this page?


The video has an overview of the process and the resources available to you on this page.

Understanding the function of a welcome speech

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

One is that it signals the beginning of an event or occasion requiring a formal opening. For instance a meeting, a lecture, a workshop, or a special celebration could all be opened with a short welcome speech.

Another is to officially welcome people into new situations. For example: new employees to a company, new volunteers to a community action group or a new member into a club.

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

Yet another, and less obvious, function is how a welcome speech sets the tone* for an event. The words you choose, 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!

*Tone - mood, quality or feeling

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Getting the focus and tone right for the event

The focus of an effective welcome speech is always your 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.

The best way to ensure you strike the right tone in the language you use is to 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 formal event?

Think about the common interest everybody shares - their reason for coming together, the purpose of 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?

Would jokes fit in? What sort?

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

When you're sure you know what's wanted, you're ready for the next steps.

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The speech writing process & resources

1. The foundation or speech template

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

Standard welcome speech content ingredients

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

The essential ingredients (important information) to cover in your opening remarks are:

  • to specifically acknowledge and welcome the chief guest and any other special guest(s)

  • 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 or overview of the event

  • 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 address template. Pick, and alter, what you need from it to suit your occasion.

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2. Short sample welcome speech for a conference 

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

*(This 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 to fit 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 great pleasure on behalf of Parents United to welcome you here today.

We are delighted to have you with us to participate and share in this special occasion, our 5th annual Children's Day Conference. Thank you for coming. That many of you have willingly 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 a long time with educational authorities to establish programs that put in place the necessary pre-reading skills. Her hard work needs 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 various 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 printable 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 that will help you prepare one fast. Check my speech builder out. 

Image - Get an original speech in minutes using our speech builder.
Image - horizontal line -red and green

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4. Write your welcome speech

 Tips to help you get your writing right

  • Ensure you've got all the names of individuals or special guests you need to mention specifically and, that you know how to pronounce each of them. Also check that you know and use their preferred pronouns: them/they, she/her, he/him...

  • 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.

Get a hand with vocabulary

If you'd like a hand with words to use, click the link to find a large selection of adaptable welcoming phrases with example sentences.

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Related helpful pages

Help rehearsing your welcome speech

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

Image: Young man rehearsing his welcome speech.

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. There are a lot of suggestions to consider.

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.

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