Teen Café Opening and Closing Ceremonies

Being able to open a meeting and get the crowd excited and focused on the upcoming program is an artful skill that comes in handy in many situations like weddings, team meetings, family gatherings, and of course, Café events. This resource contains tips and examples of some approaches to an introduction and closing of a Teen Science Café event.

Why high quality ceremonies?

It is important that teen leaders learn to do proper opening and closing ceremonies. It demonstrates that the teens put on a first rate, reputable program. It is also critically important that presenters have a very positive impression; they will be talking about their experience with colleagues who may themselves be potential presenters.

The opening and closing ceremonies are important for two reasons: 1) to provide appropriate respect and appreciation to the presenter and 2) to effectively convey important information.

Here are some elements that seem important to proper opening and closing ceremonies.

In general:
Get everybody’s full attention and get them quiet.
Speak in a strong voice, not too fast. Do not mumble!
Pause momentarily and look around between the different pieces of whatever you have to say to let each sink in. Make sure at least most people got it before moving on. The point is not to rush through a speech in the minimum amount of time; it is to communicate.
Look at your audience; do not bury your nose in a piece of paper. Look directly at one member of the audience momentarily, then another, then another, eventually casting your gaze over the whole audience. You want to pull them in.
Stand straight and tall with your head up.
Start with opening welcome, something like this: “Welcome to tonight’s Café. We have a very interesting presentation tonight. Before we start… please remember to stay seated at the end for some important announcements. And remember that the food table is now closed until after the session is over.” Also consider including a call to the audience to help make tonight’s Café a conversation; “you are very welcome to put your hand up, to ask questions…that would make our presenter very happy…” etc.

Introduction of the presenter. “Tonight I am very pleased to present [name] of the [Institute]. The topic is [the topic]. [Name] is a specialist in [specialty]. He/she has a degree in [whatever]….etc.” This introduction should be very brief… just the highlights to give some impression of where he/she is coming from. Ideally it will include some interesting personal tidbit from the presenter’s bio to give the impression of an interesting, real person.

Ideally, the teen leader will memorize the introduction, but if necessary he/she could have a cheat sheet for security. What you don’t want is for the teen leader to just read the whole introduction. That gives the impression of, I don’t have a clue who this guy is, and don’t really care; I’m just supposed to introduce him.

It is critically important that the teen leader knows exactly how to pronounce the presenter’s name and any other unfamiliar terms—without stumbling—in the introduction.

“Thank you very much [Name] for coming tonight and giving a very interesting Cafe.” [Lead applause.]

Get everyone’s full attention again.

Optionally, the teen leader can ceremoniously present a token gift to the presenter. [Café poster signed by all the teen leaders? Thank-you card? Gift certificate or some other small token?]

“I have just a few important announcements, then will have our big door prize drawing!” [Some sites use comment cards, which are a valuable source of evaluation, in a drawing as an incentive for kids to actually fill them out and turn them in.]

Announcements, starting with next Café [know how to pronounce all terms here, too], then recruit teen leaders, other?

Door prize drawing [if part of the program]: Make this a ceremony in itself. “OK, now we’re ready for the door prize drawing. We’ve asked [Name] to do the honors. [Presenter draws] And the winner is…. [Name]!”

“OK, thank you everyone for coming. The food table is now open!”

For the teen leaders to do proper introductions, they need to 1) know proper form, 2) ideally see someone model best practice, and 3) practice himself/herself with critical feedback.