How to Welcome a Distinguished Guest

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Present your distinguished guest with a 60- to 90-second introduction.
Present your distinguished guest with a 60- to 90-second introduction. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Whether you're organizing a business retreat, throwing a party for a charitable organization or hosting a political conference, showing proper respect and kindness to all of your guests ensures your event is a success. Welcoming distinguished guests, however, requires more planning and attention. From dinner etiquette to introductory speeches to accommodations, it's important to help your guest feel comfortable, respected and appreciated. At the same time, even distinguished guests can be put off by gushing or constant pressure to impress. Plan your event so that your guest has time to relax and recharge between meetings, meals and sessions.

Greet your guest personally. Whether you're meeting a distinguished guest at the airport or just prior to a formal business meeting, greet him with a friendly handshake and a brief introduction. Proceed to introduce any of your accompanying associates to your guest. For example, you might say, “Ms. Important Guest, I'd like to introduce you to our organization's advertising representative, Mr. Jack Jackson.”

Present your guest with an event agenda that outlines meeting times and locations, organized meals, group activities and downtime. Familiarize your guest with the meeting or event facility, continuing to introduce her to associates you bump into during the process.

Make your guest as comfortable as possible. If your event calls for overnight accommodations, have the room reserved well in advance. Have a copy of the event agenda in the room, as well as contact information for yourself and other event planners. Additionally, make sure your meeting rooms are clean, organized and well-marked.

Follow seating etiquette for formal dinner parties. Your distinguished guest should be seated to the right of the host. Place cards may be used to identify seating arrangements for guests.

Write and execute a brief but professional speech to introduce your distinguished guest if he is scheduled to speak at a meeting, luncheon or dinner. Otherwise, welcome your guest with succinct remarks relating his position or honors at any meeting or event in which he is a participant. For an introductory speech, you need to prepare ahead of time, developing a brief biographical sketch of your speaker by researching his credentials, achievements and honors. An introductory speech should address the topic at hand, the relevance of the topic and a brief overview of the credentials of the speaker. Save his name for last, both to build momentum and as a cue to the audience to welcome the guest.

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