Foolproof Tips for a Killer Opening Day Speech!

No pressure…. but the welcome back speech by a school administrator sets the tone for the entire year.  Let’s throw out the stiff typical speech and use some of the below tips for a killer opening day speech.  (note: choose from the list, don’t use them all – – it would be a overkiller speech!)

School Administrators, when you are planning your welcome back words for your teachers, use these tips for a killer opening day speech.

Foolproof Tips for a Killer Opening Day Speech:

Greatest Asset – When you think about the greatest asset that your schools has in the journey of educating youth…. I hope you realize its your teachers.  Effective, motivated and collaborating teachers.  Taking the time within your speech to let your faculty know that you understand this is a great start to the year.  Showing that you value them can make a killer opening day speech.

Trust – My Dad always says there are three major components to a strong relationship; communication, respect and trust. Trust is something that comes from great communication and often out of it, comes respect.  During your speech make a strong statement about trust.   How will you support your teachers?  Are you willing to protect their instruction time?  Will you honor them as professionals and fight for their best interest?  Let them know what you promise to do.  This will begin the important building of the three components you will need for a successful year.

My Dad always says there are three major components to a strong relationship; communication, respect and trust. Trust is something that comes from great communication and often out of it, comes respect.

Create a Desire to Listen – You have exactly three minutes to create a desire for your teachers to want to hear what you have to say…. THREE MINUTES!  The first minute will set the tone of your speech.  This is your only chance to make a first impression.  The following two minutes is a time you should  address any pink elephant in the room, and then grab their attention.  Will there be construction on your campus this year and some will be teaching in portables?  Address it!  Did your school drop in statistical success last year?  Address it!  Hit these points with a smile and then move on.  You want your audience to be ready to hear your killer opening day speech not worried about what could go wrong during the day, upcoming week or school year.

Challenge – A welcome speech can introduce a challenge that you pose for your team.  You can set your team up for a real growth challenge for the year.  It could something BIG or something fun and encouraging.  When done right a challenge can help to focus your faculty.

Consistent Patterns – Patterns within a speech help your audience to follow your thoughts and stay engaged with your presentation.  Look for patterns that fit well with what presenting.  I know many of you are thinking data patterns… and yes… you could go there.  But you could also find patterns in your community, current pop culture, movies, music.  Find the patterns, relate them to your message and you’ve got a good cohesive speech.

Tell a Story – This is my favorite.  Tell a story then make a point.  This is all about grabbing the heart of your audience.  Stories could be school related or you could tell the story of something completely different and then swing it back to loop in your goals for the year, or back to your brand and tagline.  Stories can also be personal which is a perfect opportunity to share a little bit about you!  Stories are a great way to relate and a nice way to start your killer opening day speech just remember the story MUST be relevant to your message.

Humor – This one is tricky…. if you are funny naturally…. go for it!  Be funny, make fun of situations, or make a face at a perfectly timed moment.  If you are not funny…. this is not the time to give it try.  Here is my one warning, make certain at some point you circle back to your message, take your voice down – softer and get back to business.  You don’t want to come across as flighty or not serious about the work at hand.

if you are funny naturally…. go for it!

Attention Getters – Start your speech with an attention getter and then pause!  STOP…. Look and wait.  Wait just long enough that your audience begins to wonder and then you go into your speech.  Attention Getters need to be BAM… and then NOTHING…. at that point you’ve got them.  It’s a great way to start or mid way through – restart your speech.   My recommendation on this is use it once…  OR over and over again. A killer opening day speech is going to stick in the heads of your audience and the BAM and then NOTHING will catch their attention.

Quote – AHHHHH the quote.  Used and reused time and again.  Here’s my challenge to you if you use a quote… stay away from a teacher/school quote, use a business or leadership quote.  OR if you use a quote that everyone knows add a twist to it in your own words.  Quotes are great Attention Grabbers and can provide Consistent Patterns.  It can also serve as the foundation for your entire speech.  Just make certain that it loops back to your message, there has to be connection or it will just hang out there.

Pose a Question – If one question is good, multiple questions are better.  List off a group of questions… maybe they came from parents or from teachers.  Maybe they were the questions you asked yourself as you planned for the upcoming year.  Questions are a great way to get your faculty thinking and can allow you to be transparent in your intentions for the year.

Repetition – Utilizing repetition is a great way to make your point.  Take EVERYTHING back to one statement.  Say your statement, move on, back to THE statement, move on, circle back to THE statement, more information, back to the statement.  See the repetition?

Take EVERYTHING back to one statement.

Vision – You and everyone on your staff should know the vision for the upcoming school year.  The word vision as a noun is defined as the act or power of sensing with the eyes; sight, and the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.  When you are communicating your vision with your staff, state it in such a way that they can see it in their minds and it articulates what is to come.  Your vision for the year is a fantastic foundation on which to build your speech.

Goals/Message – One or Two… that’s it!  Make them clear and specific.  Here is what we are working towards.  This is what we are going to do, by when and at this level of success.  When you share this with your team, it’s not so much a challenge but a statement of your belief in their abilities.  This team is a reflection of you… therefore they are great!  (even if you have a few that need improvement)  Expectations is the number one indicator of success.

Brand – Banding in the corporate world is key critical to success.  So it should be for your school.  Present a new brand, a brand for the year.  Something new and exciting, something your staff will see everywhere.  A brand should be presented with guidelines for how to use it, when to use it and options for how to use it.  This is a different approach but you could circle your entire speech around this brand.

Tagline – A Tagline is a great and simple way to get everyone on the same page and fast.  I worked for the Marion County School Board when Jim Warford (www.jimwarford.com) was elected superintendent.  His tagline was “NO EXCUSES”… period!  No Excuses…. that was it and it meant he was talking business.   We were going to make change happen.  Another tagline that I remember was Children First….  Two words but they are very important to the focus of the work you do.  Children First – in decisions, in activities, in direction…. children first.  What is your tagline for the year? Place it everywhere and start by having it in your opening day speech.

Conclusion – The end of your speech is the wrapping up the present and putting a bow on it for your audience to take with them.  Circle back to you message and leave them with something to think about.  Be aware of what will come next in the agenda and work a smooth transition into it.  It’s helpful to hand it over to someone else after you have completed the welcome speech to give your listeners a chance for a change of pace and you a chance to observe and listen.


There are so many more ways to create a killer opening day speech, I could go on forever.  But the above thoughts will get you thinking about ways to present the message you want to get across.  Just remember:

  1. Start with a pause, smile, look at your audience and then take a breath.
  2. Two Take Home Ideas.  Don’t go overboard… Know two things you want them to get out of your speech and let those two ideas drive the speech.
  3. Make sure to have a common thread throughout.  (using one of the ideas above can help you with that.)
  4. Always circle back to the message.
  5. Relax, and Have Fun!

School Administrators, when you are planning your welcome back words for your teachers, use these tips for a killer opening day speech.

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