The first paragraph in a book. The first note in a piece of music. The opening scene in a film. This is where the scene is set, expectations are created and the attention of the audience is caught.
Will it be sad? Funny? Or scarry? And what will happen next?!
In dramaturgy, this is called the hook.
Similarly the opening act of a conference is just as important This is where the participants decide if this will be a day that will keep them on their toes – or if this will be a day where they can zone out and check emails all day long…
At the opposite end of the scale, there is also no point in setting the scene with a circus act that has no relevance to today’s topic. Just because something is different and energetic, it is not good. Rather, it will be perceived as giddy entertainment without substance.
A great conference opening is like a stock cube, where the topic of the day is presented briefly, sharply and appears relevant. The participants must understand immediately why they are there and the difference they make by attending.