How to write an invitation letter to be a chief guest at a function

Updated February 17, 2017

Inviting someone to be the guest of honour at a function seems like an easy task; after all, who wouldn't want to be honoured at an event? Academics, politicians and prominent business people are often invited to functions in this capacity. Such people come to an event as a favour to the hosting organisation. Therefore, when you write the letter you must keep the tone positive and use persuasion to convince the honoree to come to the event.

Load the printer with your organisation's letterhead, if you have one. The honoree needs to know that the invitation is coming from a legitimate organisation, especially is he wasn't aware of your organisation before.

Type the date and skip a line space. Type the recipient's name, organisation name and address on separate lines. Skip another line space.

Create the salutation by typing "Dear Dr./Mr./Ms. (Last name)" followed by a colon and skip another line space.

Start the first paragraph by complimenting the recipient on his work. Explain how he and his work have come to the attention of your organisation and tell him about your organisation. Be complementary but not effusive or the recipient might feel that you are being insincere.

Invite the honoree to the event. Explain precisely what the event is, what happens at the event and how formal the event is. Play up the event and sell it to him as not only something he would enjoy, but as a function that could get him publicity or positive exposure.

Set the expectations for the guest's role. If he would have to give a speech or perform a ribbon-cutting for a new building, he needs to know that. Tell him what he will be paid. If you are paying his travel expenses or giving him an honorarium for the event, you should mention the amount of the honorarium, as well as the accommodations that you will offer for him such as hotel and incidental fees.

Tell the recipient how the event will help your organisation, if applicable. If the proceeds of the event will benefit a charity or fund some special program run by your organisation, let him know.

Thank the letter recipient for his time and give him a date by which you need a reply. Provide your personal contact information, such as your telephone number and e-mail, in case he has any questions.

Mail the letter and wait for a response. If you do not hear back by the deadline that you posted in the letter, call him and inquire about his intentions.


Always maintain a positive tone in the invitation, even if you believe that the recipient will decline. If you show insecurity, the recipient might question the importance of the event.

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About the Author

Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.