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Explore how we write Meeting Opening Speeches. Discover what you need to include, and learn tips and tricks on impressing your audience.
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How We Write a Meeting Welcome Speech
Why the need for a speech?
Formalities are expected at conferences, major meetings, and work functions. As the host of these business events, it is your job to thank attendees and to “set the scene” by outlining the purpose of the occasion. A basic speech may "tick the box", though a great speech engaged the audience with a level of influence. With a professional and engaging speech, combined with an influential “why, what, how, what if” structure, you can start the occasion in a way that gains buy-in to your message.
How we write a Meeting Welcome Speech
A well-designed speech for your meeting, function, or conference possesses a strong central theme and is structured in a way that sets the tone for the occasion. We follow a specific Why, What, How, What If structure to maximize your impact and influence on the audience. This structure provides an easy-to-follow sequence, ensuring they clearly understand your topic and message. It also reduces the risk of missing vital information, increases your chance of gaining buy-in, and enhances the possibility of the audience taking actions you desire.
Where appropriate, it is also important that special guests and other attendees are acknowledged are thanked for their contributions. Your audience expects to be informed and acknowledged, and you hope to do so with a level of influence, so considering your theme and applying this structure will ensure all everyone’s expectations are met.
Before putting pen to paper, think about what may appropriate for your audience. Think about who will be there and what they might want to hear. Remember - a speech is for the listener, not the speaker. Do you have a laid-back audience? They may respond better to a cool and casual approach. Though, a formal meeting may require a more formal "feel". Try to keep it personal and light, and add your personal twist. But, just make sure your speech also suits the tastes of your guests and the occasion.
Another thought before writing your speech - think about what message you are trying to send with the speech. It’s too easy for most to simply write something “because they have to” without thinking about what they want the audience to think of once the speech is over. Understanding this will ensure you send a clear message with your speech, and it will help you to come up with ideas.
Opening and Welcome
Start by welcoming your audience and thanking attendees, special guests, and others for attending or contributing to the event. This will satisfy individuals’ need for recognition. Briefly outline what you are going to tell your audience. Outlaying the purpose of the meeting, conference, or function, and “signposting” (telling them what you are going to tell them) prepares your audience and brings immediate clarity to your speech.
Explain why this topic, or its associated activities, is so important – explaining the “why” behind the topic and its associated activities illustrates the “big picture” and clearly outlines the audience’s overall goal. You may wish to consider launching into a personal story here that helps the audience to better understand the "why". Also, imagine you are an audience member. Ask yourself, and answer:
Why should I listen?
Why is this topic or theme important?
Why are you the right person to speak about it?
This is an opportunity to inform your audience and reflect on what events relating to your theme have transpired or will transpire. Depending on the occasion, this is potentially an opportunity to show appreciation towards your audience. Answer practical questions such as:
What did we do?
What are we going to do?
What’s the key message?
What’s the big idea?
What’s the theory or model?
What’s the key information or evidence they need to hear?
Time to focus more on the activity. After explaining "what" you are talking about, launch into "how". With information or stories, answer practical questions such as:
How does it actually work?
How are we performing with this topic?
How are we going to do this?
How about some examples?
The "What If"
Describing the consequences of not undertaking an activity relating to your theme, both positive and negative, adds a final influential touch to your message. Your audience may already be thinking of concerns about the past, present, and future.
Answer questions like those below to address these concerns.
Negative "what ifs":
What if there is not enough in the budget?
What might happen if we don't take action?
What if the scope of the project gets wider?
What if the client doesn’t pay us on time?
Positive "what ifs"
Where will this be useful to me?
How can I apply this idea?
What if I were to put this into practice?
When will we see the results?
Call to Action
Your audience has heard you and understood your message. Now use a Call to Action to have the audience contemplate bringing your suggestions into effect through personal action. Examples could include listening intently to the meeting's speakers, taking information and spreading it throughout the company, or performing specific tasks to help with the launch of a new service.
Close briefly by welcoming the next speaker. Considering a final acknowledgment to guests and introducing the next topic for discussion.
Consider how you are delivering your speech. There may be times in your speech that you should vary your tone and volume, and times you should use gestures. These tools will help to get maximum impact, so consider this when you write your speech. For more on how to deliver a Meeting Welcome Speech, check out our Resources page.
At SpeechForm, we believe your efforts to write your Meeting Welcome Speech is not to just “get it done”, but to make the speech enjoyable, memorable, and one that has people approaching you to sing their praises for your speech. After all, you will have put in a lot of effort. There is something special about making an impact on your audience when you thought your sole job was just to “get through it”. Make sure to include the above points so that the audience gets what they expect from your speech. And always ask yourself - what am I trying to achieve with this speech? Keep that in mind as you develop your content.
Remember to rehearse. This is a performance. The more you develop your speech and rehearse, the greater the impression you will make. Confidence through a well-written speech is great, but using your voice and your body effectively only comes through practice.
Get it right, and you will leave a lasting impression that your audience will remember long after the meeting.