Get maximum buy-in by starting your meeting on the right note with a welcome speech
What’s the purpose?
It would be a bit strange to launch into a major work or office meeting without welcoming everyone and setting the tone for the meeting, right? The key to the meeting welcome speech is to get buy-in from the audience so they start the meeting on an engaged note. Ever heard of the halo effect? It’s a type of cognitive bias in which an impression of something influences how we feel and think about that thing as a whole. In other words, the feeling you get from the first speaker at a meeting can positively or negatively affect how someone feels about the whole meeting. If you start a meeting that could last hours or days, best to get everyone engaged from the start.
We have seven tips to get you on track for your next meeting welcome speech.
Tip 1: Audience
Start by considering the formality required. In a business environment, you don’t want to make your speech too casual, but you don’t want to appear too formal and “stiff” if the situation doesn’t call for it. Take a moment to think about who will be at the meeting. Do they like humour? Do they prefer when people get to the point? Do they lose interest easily and need a quick, punchy story to get their attention? Consider this from the start of your welcome speech, as it will set the tone for your entire speech.
Tip 2: Theme
Now that you have accounted for your audience’s expectations, consider the message you aim to send with your welcome speech. Sure, you want to welcome everyone and handover to the next speaker, but what tone do you want to set for the meeting? What do you want people to think about from the outset? Outlining this theme in a sentence or two will align your thoughts in a focused direction when the time comes to write the speech.
Tip 3: Open and Hook
Welcome attendees to the meeting and acknowledge VIPs, hosts, agenda creators, and other people if appropriate. You may wish to outline the meeting's purpose and “signpost" (telling them what you are going to tell them). Or, you may wish to start with a "hook" - a question, story, or curious comment, such as a startling statistic, a quotation, a story about the event, or an interesting fact about the organisation. Whatever it takes to prepare the audience for the meeting, get their attention and bring immediate clarity to your welcome speech.
Tip 4: WWHW
A great way to get buy-in from your audience is to try the WWHW (Why, What, How, What If) approach. This method is seen in books, blogs, and popular marketing videos (try Simon Sinek’s video if you have never seen it). It creates an easy-to-understand structure for your audience. It has shown to get listeners on board with your message and boost the chances of the audience taking the action you suggest. If you want to see several examples, check out examples in each section of our Meeting Welcome Speech Generator.
Start by talking about why the meeting, or what it’s about, is taking place. Also, consider audience questions like:
· Why should I listen?
· Why is this topic or theme important?
· Why now?
Move into what has taken place, or what is going to take place. Consider audience questions like:
· What did we do specifically to achieve these results?
· What’s the key message?
· What activities need to be taken in the future to be in an ideal state regarding this topic?
How did it happen, or how is it going to happen? Consider other questions like:
· How does it actually work?
· How are we performing with this topic?
· How about some examples?
What if this didn’t happen, or doesn’t happen in the future? Consider other audience questions like:
· What if we don't/didn’t take these actions?
· What if I were to put this into practice?
Tip 5: Close
Close your meeting welcome speech by considering a Call to Action – asking the audience to do something, like keeping an open mind, passing on information to others, or driving the meeting’s key message out in the community. This is a great way to influence your audience and get them to take positive action in the context of your meeting.
Now, you will have successfully primed your audience for the meeting. Finish by handing over your first speaker and you’re done!