This is the point at which the Chair stands up, introduces the guests so that everyone recognises them, and informs everybody of any late-breaking developments. Make all of these announcements now, so that when people come and complain you can say "it was all explained at the Opening Ceremony." If possible, the opening ceremony should last no longer than 15 minutes. Don't try and make a big production of it. Don't do something big and flashy. Most people just don't care, they want to get on with the convention, not listen to you wittering on or watch some half-baked presentation. If you have something very flashy, and you can guarantee that it will take no longer than 5 minutes and will be visible to everyone, then you might consider giving it a go, otherwise just forget it. Consider scheduling a panel in the 45 minutes after the end of the opening ceremony, so you've got an incentive not to run any longer.
Note: this is the opinion of Steve Davies ... other people think that something flashy at the Opening ceremony is a good way of building atmosphere and "getting the party started." Make up your own minds!
Things that the Chair should say include:
- Welcome everyone to the convention
- Point out the guests of honour and ask everyone to be nice to them, buy them drinks in the bar etc.
- Ask for people to come and volunteer as gophers.
- Remind everybody what the policy is on smoking, mobile phones and other areas of contention.
- Remind everyone that they should wear their badge as they won't be allowed back in without it.
- Announce anything that got omitted from the 'Read Me' by mistake, like times for the Dealers Room and Art Show.
- Request that everybody be polite to hotel staff and non-convention people staying in the hotel. Some people do need reminding.
- Remind them to lock hotel doors, not leave wallets in the bar and so on, especially if you are in a hotel where this is going to be a problem.
- Remind them that, if they have a problem, please come and talk to the committee first and not either shout at the hotel staff or feel miserable about it for the whole weekend.
- Tell them to go away and have a good time.