Lighten up kid, it’s only a con!

Opening Ceremony

This is the point at which the chairman 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.

Things that the chairman should say include:


Who goes on?

Notes for moderators

Mikes, sound-proofing, external noise


Not to be confused with the games room

Silly games



Auctions are a perennial favourite at British conventions. They generally fall into 3 categories

Generally, these items are organised by a group of people who have been doing this for ages and who understand how the whole thing works. Don't forget that in addition to one or more auctioneers (two is a good number) you also need to allow for someone to handle the money side (and they may need money from the convention for a float). Auctions, especially the Art Auction are also real gopher sinks. Be careful when you schedule the auction because you can pretty well guarantee to run low on gophers at this time.


Masquerade is generally the most hassle-intensive part of the programme. Most of your tech budget is probably going to go on supporting the various presentations. The participants are going to be highly stressed and quite a few suffering from stage fright. There is a potential for people hurting themselves, tripping over, chaos is always only ever a heartbeat away and more people are going to be watching than at any other item.

With this in mind, every year people suggest doing away with the masquerade and saving a large chunk of their budget. Nobody does it because, as I said, it’s a very popular item even if it is disproportionately expensive.

Bidding Session

One unusual feature of Eastercons is the bidding session at which groups compete for right to run the next but one con. This has been going on since time immemorial and we're certainly not going to stop now.

Since we went to two-year bidding, it’s been traditional for the next year’s chairman to chair this. I don't have a problem with this, I did it when it was my turn, but do warn the person you think is running the session, just in case they weren't aware of it.

Things to remember if you are chairing the bidding session:

Here's my introductory speech from when I chaired the bidding session at Intuition:

Gripe Session

Sooner or later you’ll have to bite the bullet and go to the Business Meeting, also known as the Gripe Session. Do not be tempted to put this in a small room, only allow half an hour or cancel it altogether. These are sure fire ways of ensuring that lots of people suddenly turn up with serious problems, and you take a lot of flack for not letting them sound off at you.

Recently, a new alternative to this was tried out (at Intuition in 1998). In this variant, the people on the platform are all from the committees of the following two Eastercons and there are no committee members of the current convention visible. The emphasis is all on things to be learned for the next year, and less on complaining. We tried this again at Reconvene in 1999 and so far this seems to be a successful strategy. It does remove some of the overpowering sense of looking for someone to blame that hangs about the traditional gripe session. However, if you do this then you must:

Closing Ceremony

This is where the Chairman stands up and tells everybody it’s all over. It’s nice to go out with a bang, it gives everyone a feeling that the convention has really finished—even if you’ve got more items on afterwards. In 1993 at Helicon, we closed with a 3-screen slide-show of about 200 photographs taken throughout the convention (a gimmick we ripped off from Noreascon 3, the 1989 Worldcon). It was an awful lot of work, but it went down extremely well.

Things to say include:

Things not to do: