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Being required to give a welcome address may cause you to shake and become weak in the knees. Whether it is the opening speech at an event, a conference or a staff meeting, delivering the welcome address is an important task and requires you to convey information while keeping the audience's attention. Preparation will help you feel confident when all eyes are on you. Practicing your address in front of a mirror and memorizing the format and content will help your audience stay focused and interested in your message.
Know the message that you want to convey and the type of audience to which you will be speaking. Understand how long your address needs to be so that you can tailor it to the situation and the allotted time.
Write down everything you want to say. Decide if you will use your word-for-word script or cue cards with prompts or if you will completely memorize your address. Regardless of how you will remember what you want to say, the delivery should be natural and not recited.
Introduce yourself and any special guests to open your speech. Ask the guests beforehand for information about themselves that you may use in your welcome address.
Be witty, if it is natural for you, but avoid opening with a joke. The audience may not be prepared to laugh, and the rest of your address may be compromised by their embarrassment for you.
Thank the audience members for their presence, and give a brief overview of the meeting or day's events. Take the opportunity to "tease" the audience with what will come, but do not be detailed because you risk speaking for too long and taking away the impact of the speakers whom you are introducing.
Include the goal of the event or meeting. Members of the audience should not be questioning why you are speaking or, worse, why they are there. Briefly describe the reason for everyone to be at that venue.
Close your address by sincerely wishing the audience an interesting and productive day. Reiterate what you would like them to gain from being present, and introduce the first speaker.
Rehearse your address at least three times, and time yourself to ensure that you meet the requirement for the length of your welcome address. Practice at least once without stopping for any reason in order to determine how well you will do in front of the audience. Ask friends or relatives to allow you to practice in front of them and to give you honest feedback. Incorporate their comments during your address.
It's better to be brief than long. When unsure of the time while speaking, stop your address at an appropriate spot and close.
- microphone image by Richard J Thompson from Fotolia.com