About hooks: How to open a conference

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…

It is also in the beginning of the conference that the conference culture is created.

If, for example, the intention is to create an engaging conference where the participants must be active and interact with each other, then it is not optimal to start the conference with all sorts of introductory knee bends from ministers, managers, organizers etc. and top it off with a very long presentation.

1.5 hours later, it will be impossible to get the participants to stand up and do something, because they have already learned that “here we just sit down and listen”.

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.

Therefore, a good hook pads people on the back, so they feel heard, seen and understood – and gives them a little slap, so they are provoked just enough to keep listening! We have made many types of hooks in the past years, and we are also happy to help your conference off to a good start.

Different voices and opinions

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