How to Write a Welcome Speech | Academic Conference Edition
Have you ever been to a conference where the welcome speech left you wanting more information or didn’t make you excited for what’s to come? Yikes! You may not be alone in that sentiment.
But were you invited to give the welcome speech for the upcoming conference you’re attending, and want to do a better job? Fun stuff, congratulations!
We can’t take the conference jitters away, but we can help you learn about welcome speeches and how to write one in this article. In the end, you’ll see how Orvium helps the research community prepare for a conference.
What is a Welcome Speech?
A welcome speech (or address) sets the tone for a conference or event. The speech must describe what’s to come and get everyone excited for the event and feel welcome. It should also create an appropriate environment for knowledge sharing.
Anyone can deliver a welcome speech, but a minimum of excellent presentation skills, fun and creative demeanor, and the ability to be personable are major pluses. If you haven’t given a speech of this caliber before, remember that preparing your notes, writing your speech, and delivering it are all a part of the process. Practice makes perfect.
An excellent welcome speech will unite the audience, helping them come together for a common purpose.
See some examples of welcome speeches here, and learn how to write your own below.
How to Write a Welcome Speech for a Conference
1. Get the Event Focus and Tone Right
Since a welcome speech sets the tone for a conference or event, you must ensure it’s informative and interesting. While thinking about this, decide whether or not you’ll use formal or informal language. How you choose, structure, and deliver your words matters. These all come together to create the “tone”.
To decide between formal and informal language for your welcome speech, consult the graph below:
Typically, you’ll want to use formal language for a conference (but not overly formal) depending on your audience demographics and ensure everyone can understand you. A welcome speech has the following structure:
- opening and welcome
- theme and main topics
- outcome (or agenda)
- thank yous (to attendees, sponsors, volunteers, vendors, speakers, etc.)
- a closing statement.
Pro tip: you want to connect with your audience, grab their attention, and get them excited about the event, so start with a strong but warm opening. Don’t mention everyone involved throughout your speech, as that can get lengthy; instead, mention the essential speakers, organizations, associations, or volunteers. Finally, end the speech on a good note to get everyone excited with stats and pertinent information, such as:
- the high number of attendees
- any high-impact research that will be shown
- the different represented countries
- the variety of covered topics.
If you don’t know where to start, follow this welcome speech planner and read the information below.
2. Take Notes and Draft an Outline
From our Full Guide to Planning an Academic Conference, you know that your welcome speech must add value to the conference, just as each keynote and session speaker does. To do so, research (and reach out to) essential participants (keynote, session speakers, vendors, etc.) to make sure you know what kind of approach you can take with your speech. Humor works in the right circumstances, but you must spend time thinking it through; not all jokes will be taken lightly, and you want to avoid any misunderstandings.
Remember, your goal is to unite and bring together like-minded individuals who all have a common purpose, that of advancing and sharing knowledge.
In your notes or outline, you’ll want to include the following steps:
- Welcome the audience - use a clear and strong voice to welcome all attendees and grab their attention.
- an example of an informal greeting: “Hello and welcome, everyone!”
- an example of a formal greeting: “Good evening to all attendees. It’s wonderful to see you all.”
- Introduce the event - say the event’s name, purpose, and age or history (if it’s a repeat event or conference), and talk a bit about the event’s organization.
- Mention any distinguished guests - ensure you get their names, affiliations, and credentials correct.
- State the main topics - the main topics are the attendees’ common interests, so you may choose to present a specific subject within the field selected that year.
- Outline the agenda - mention whether there’ll be sessions with specific poster presentations, (sub)topics, or areas and spaces to exchange and discuss ideas or network. Direct attendees to the conference website, content management tool, or brochure for schedule specifics.
- Motivate everyone - highlight any conference strengths and warmly introduce the first speaker or entertainment.
Important to note: for virtual events, ensure that attendees can see and hear you clearly and look up from your notes or outline often.
3. Write Your Speech
As you’re finalizing your notes or draft, ensure that your speech is around the five-minute mark to avoid boredom or giving the audience too much information right off the bat (to not take away from any speakers). Consult with the organizing committee about a time frame, as the length of the speech can vary from conference to conference.
Pro tip: add individual greetings as necessary for special guests, speakers, or sponsors.
4. Rehearse Your Speech
Once you’ve done the necessary research, outlined, and written your welcome speech, it’s time to rehearse it a few times to familiarize yourself with your speech. Read it out loud and practice it with colleagues or friends to get their input and feedback on areas of possible improvement.
However, don’t over-rehearse your speech. You want to still sound natural, not robotic or like you’re reading a script.
Again, ensure you know how to pronounce everyone’s name and credentials as you’re rehearsing, and practice making enough eye contact with the audience or specific attendees as you’re speaking.
Orvium Makes You Feel Welcome
No one can take the nerves of giving the opening speech at a conference away; however, Orvium can make it less nerve-wracking. If you’re having trouble finding colleagues or like-minded individuals to review your speech outline and give you feedback, you can reach out to one of the Orvium communities to get to know other people in the field.
Who knows, maybe you’ll meet members and form friendships that’ll last a lifetime.
As for giving your welcome speech, remember to get the tone right, keep it brief, and don’t make it overly formal (unless absolutely necessary). Also, a smile and a lot of eye contact go a long way. Let’s get people excited about new scientific discoveries! Want to see more of what we do? Check out our platform to discover what matters to you.