I offer heart and humor while honoring the unique spirit of your event
I keynote conferences and other special events from coast to coast with messages of heart, humor and hope. I speak on numerous life-affirming topics (see below), the common thread being that courage, humility, desperation, and living beyond ourselves can change the world.
Mirroring the variety in my writing, I also encourage people with humor-sprinkled exploits of hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, detailed in my book, Cascade Summer. And takes listeners to Bedford Falls, New York, to remind them of the nuggets of truth found in 52 Little Lessons From It’s a Wonderful Life.
Given my eclectic repertoire, I can take my presentations to wherever your organization wants; in fact, I enjoy
Keynoting the Oregon Community Foundation in Sunriver, Oregon, in 2014.
the challenge of being a "Swiss Army knife" of speaking. I did an upper-management retreat for the Corvallis (Oregon) Clinic, woke Oregon funeral directors from the dead with post-lunch humor, gave a grand-slam speech to a youth sports banquet, and lauded historians at the Western Museums Association's annual conference in San Diego.
As the author of more than two dozen books and more than 2,000 newspaper columns, I draw on a deep well of inspiration that fits my “do-unto-others” value system. The result is an array of inspirational, witty and thought-provoking talks. In short, my presentations are:
such a deep emotional level that it’ll translate into contributions.
❦ Sprinkled with humor—when appropriate. I won the National Society of Newspaper Columnist’s top prize for humor writing and for general writing. I've judged the Erma Bombeck Humor Writing Contest. But I’m not a standup comedian. I see humor as a means to an end. When people laugh, they relax. When they relax, they listen. When they listen, there’s a better chance that they’ll take to heart something serious I say.”
❦ Custom-crafted. As a speaker, my journalistic background makes me a tad different than some speakers. Beyond having a heightened concern for accuracy and deadlines, I routinely interview people who are part of the organization to whom I’ll be speaking. The worst thing in a speaker is someone who stands up there and says, "It’s great to be here with you tonight" when he doesn’t know where "here" is or who "you" are. I partner with every organization I’m working with, considering it a privilege to become part of their team to help the event be a success.
❦ Filled with heart and hope. What inspires audiences more than anything is stories of inspiring people, whose stories I've had the privilege to tell. When I tell them about Frances Slanger, a heroic WWII nurse on whom my book American Nightingale is based, it resonates with people who think they’re not particularly significant. They think: "Hey, if she could make a difference in the world, so can I.” When I talk about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, I do so as a guy who started it at age 57 and hopes to finish age 67, giving hope for those of us who think life ends at 40.
forthcoming book Seven Summers (And a Few Bummers.)
❦ Leaving an honorable legacy; especially good for fundraising events. (Based on 52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables and 52 Little Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life.)
❦ Living for something greater than ourselves; also good for fundraising events. (Based on American Nightingale, Pebble in the Water, 52 Little Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life and Lessons on the Way to Heaven.)
❦ Courage, the waning American virtue. (Based on Saving My Enemy, Boy in the Mirror, Healing Wounds (co-authored), Letters From Dachau (co-authored), Lessons on the Way to Heaven and The Wizard of Foz.)
❦ The power of forgiveness, humility, and reconciliation. (Based on Saving My Enemy.)
❦ The power of imagination. (Based on my life experiences.)
❦ The power of humor. (Based on my life experiences.)
❦ Why desperation is the under-appreciated catalyst for great accomplishments. (Based on The Wizard of Foz and Welch life experiences.)
What They're Saying
❦ “Hands down, the most impressive speaker we have heard in years. The response was nothing short of remarkable. I highly recommend him.”
— Alex Rankin, archivist at the History of Nursing Archives at Boston University
❦ “Forget the hyperbole. Our 261 participants scored Welch a 4.81 on a 5.0-scale. I was impressed that he took time to learn about what we do so he could tailor his touching and humorous presentation to us. He did fantastic!”
— Julie Zander, organizer of the national Association of Personal Historians conference in Portland
❦ “Bob is funny, nostalgic, sentimental, inspirational, poignant, and absolutely prolific as he hit the ball out of the park for our Kidsports fundraising event. Forget raise the paddle; Bob motivated the group to raise the roof.”
— Bev Smith, executive director, KidSports, Eugene, Oregon
❦ “Bob is thoughtful and enlightening, a master story teller with a message. His presentation conveys purpose and insight into how each of us can make a difference, even in the worst of times, no matter what job we have. A wonderful speaker and motivator!”
— Mary Seymour, director of Professional Development, Emerson Hospital, Concord, Mass.
❦ “Welch was both encouraging and inspiring. A true compliment to any professional association gathering and a ‘must-have’ for any conference.”
— Ali Crane, program chair, Pacific Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, 2008 national conference, Portland
❦ “He was absolutely superb! Mesmerizing, motivating, challenging.”
— Clara Richardson, director of Purdue University School of Nursing
❦ “Stimulating, engaging … one of the highlights of the conference.”
— Mike Monahan, executive director of the Uniformed Nurse Practitioner Association, New Orleans
❦ “We were reminded why we became nurses. Totally consuming and uplifting Humorous.”
— Lynn Krater, chair, Oklahoma State Council of Perioperative Nurses
❦ “Bob’s wry, self-deprecating humor provided counterpoint to the touching and inspiring story of a World War II military nurse. I’ve never laughed and cried so much during one speech. The story of Frances Slanger and her colleagues is uplifting and relevant to our times, especially when told by this master story teller.”
— Rosemary Garagnani, president of the Oregon Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Bend, Ore.
❦ “One of the most inspiring and entertaining evenings the Medical Society has sponsored.”
— Candice Barr, executive director of the Lane County Medical Society, Eugene, Oregon.
Among the organizations to whom Welch has spoken
❦ Journalistic Learning Initiative, emcee annual fundraiser, Eugene, Oregon, 2021.
❦ Oregon Track Club, keynoted annual awards banquet, Eugene, Oregon, 2019.
❦ Umatilla Electric Co-operative, keynoter, Hermiston, Oregon, 2017.
❦ Travel Oregon, keynoter at annual conference, Sunriver, Oregon, 2014
❦ Massachusetts General Hospital, Keynote speaker, Boston, 2010.
❦ National Military Nurses Conference, keynoter, Washington, D.C., 2006.
❦ University of Oregon’s Department of History, commencement address, June 2009.
❦ National Alliance of Mental Illness (Lane County Chapter), Keynote speaker, nurses, 2011.
❦ Keynoter, Slanger plaque dedication, Massachusetts Statehouse, Boston, 2005.
❦ ABC’s “Good Morning America,” author interview, 2004.
❦ Luncheon speaker, Boston Medical Center nurses, 2005.
❦ Purdue University School of Nursing, keynoter, West Lafayette, Ind., 2007.
❦ MetroWest Medical Center, keynoter, nurse appreciation banquet, Framingham, Mass., 2006.
❦ Uniformed Nurses Practitioners Association, lunch speaker, New Orleans.
❦ National Society of Newspaper Columnists, workshop speaker, New Orleans, 2004.
❦ New England Sinai Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, keynoter, Boston, 2006.
❦ U.S. Army Nurse Corps banquet, keynoter, Madigan Medical Center, Tacoma, Wash., 2010.
❦ National Association of Personal Historians, keynoter, Portland, 2006.
❦ William Beaumont Army Medical Center, keynoter, El Paso, Texas, 2007.
❦ Oklahoma State Council of Perioperative Nurses, keynoter, Stillwater, Okla., 2006.
❦ Western Museums Directors Conference, keynoter, San Diego, Calif., 2009.
❦ Northern Oklahoma State School of Nursing, commencement speaker, Enid, Okla., 2006.
❦ U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School, keynoter, San Antonio, 2005.
❦, National Hadassah Conference, presenter, Washington, D.C., 2006.
❦ Boston University Nursing Archives, keynoter, annual dinner, 2004.
❦ National Writers Workshop, workshop leader, Portland, Ore., 2007.
❦ Authentic. Above all, I want to be real. Genuine. I don’t tell stories I heard or saw on the Web. I tell stories I’ve come across in my 40 years in journalism and 30 years as an author.
❦ Inspiring. I’m not the guy who’s going to inspire you to go out and make a million bucks. I’m the guy who’s going to convince you that your job is so important that you’ll want to work harder and smarter, because of your renewed pride. The guy who’s going to connect your nonprofit organization to the audience at
By far the coolest venue I've ever spoke at, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, here for Newport's "Chocolate Extravaganza," 2014.
❦ Being pebbles in life's waters: how we make more of a difference in the world than we think. (Based on his books American Nightingale, Pebble in the Water and 52 Little Lessons From It's a Wonderful Life.)
❦ Overcoming obstacles. (Based on Resolve and The Wizard of Foz.)
❦ Life lessons form the Pacific Crest Trail: What I've learned form hiking (2,050 miles of) the PCT. (Based on Cascade Summer and my
In younger days, with ABC Medical Editor Dr. Timothy Johnson, before a "Good Morning America" interview for American Nightingale, 2004.
❦ The importance of history. (Based on nearly all my books, and his "history-in-a-hurry" life in journalism.
❦ Seeing, and being, the wonder in our midst: how easily we bow to celebrity and power and, in so doing, miss the extraordinary right around us. (Based on my life experiences.)
❦ Sports as a builder of extraordinary human beings. (Based on My Seasons and my work with the author of a forthcoming book on navigating the changing youth sports scene.)
Giving a Memorial Day talk in Eugene, Oregon, 2018.