I am introducing my first speaker at my university and, since the speaker is rather famous, I wrote a 1-2 minute introduction. The crowd will be interdisciplinary and between 100-400 people.

Should I lead the audience in an applause at the end of my introduction, or just finish with the title of his talk and a nod to him? Or something else?

If it matters, it is an interdisciplinary topic, a public audience and in a science department.

  • 3
    Yes, always lead the audience in an applause before the speech, because after it, depending on the speaker, they might be no longer willing to applaude :-) Feb 4, 2016 at 17:50
  • 4
    In my opinion, the speaker earns that applause at the end by doing a good job. I will only give moderate applause before a presentation, but I will applaud vigorously at the end if I thought it was valuable.
    – Dan
    Feb 4, 2016 at 21:30
  • This may be a local custom. I think I've seen it done both ways.
    – user1482
    Feb 4, 2016 at 23:46

2 Answers 2


For a public lecture, yes. You are inviting the audience to show their appreciation for the speaker and the effort it takes to address a public audience, and to acknowledge the opportunity afforded them to see and hear the speaker.

In turn, when I first start speaking to a public audience -- regardless of whether I get a welcoming round of applause -- I always thank the audience for coming to my talk. The combination of welcoming applause and sincere appreciation towards the audience makes for a positive shared experience, right from the start.

Things are different for non-public talks, such as at your department's colloquia, or a workshop, or (non-keynote) conference speaker. Here, the vibe is that the talk is expected and, in some regards, a routine part of the job of an academic. Showing up and presenting is expected, rather than a treat, or something out of the ordinary.


"Please welcome our guest ..." and applaud with the crowd.

Presumably you have attended to invited speeches before?

  • 11
    There is not always applause before colloquia. In math at least it seems to be uncommon, though I agree it's pretty common for large public lectures.
    – Kimball
    Feb 4, 2016 at 18:07
  • 2
    @Kimball, Yes, you have isolated the dilemma. We don't normally applaud at the start of colloquia, but we also don't normally have large public "special" colloquia. Feb 5, 2016 at 13:34
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    @user1717828 I honestly can't remember whether there was usually applause before the large public math lectures I went to, but I think the answer is usually yes when there is an extended introduction to the speaker. If you do it then at worst the speaker will find it unexpected. If you don't, then there's a possibility the speaker may be a little disappointed.
    – Kimball
    Feb 5, 2016 at 13:39

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