An opening speech or kick-off speech is a speech that is scheduled to take place at the beginning of an event.

It usually marks a first highlight in the dramaturgy of the event and fulfills several functions at the same time. An opening speech or kick-off speech serves to open the event and introduce the topic. It creates an attunement of the audience to the event. It draws the audience’s attention to the theme, offers a preview of the following lectures, arouses curiosity and creates tension. Typically, it creates a mental arc over the different parts of the event, works out the red thread and embeds the topic in the relevant context. Ideally, it forms a first highlight in the course of the event through its own thematic focus and the type of presentation.

People who give an opening speech or kick-off speech are referred to as speakers, official speakers or keynote speakers.

How to Cite

The definition outlined above was first published in: Jörn Lengsfeld: Glossary of Public Speaking. Please refer to the original publication if you want to cite the text.