Some great answers but I will just add my personal experiences having now run the first 3 quests with a group of largely brand new players.
The first thing I did when I read the adventure was realise there is very little information for starting out in the town. There are locations, a few NPC’s and some very brief information. I turned the first session into a whole mini adventure in the town. The players where introduced to one another in the Inn, got talking to some of the locals (additional NPC’s I created to give flavor) had a run in with some thugs who had recently moved in while in the inn, this was over a game of chance that the thugs where cheating at and the players called them out on. They therefore had an opportunity to learn about persuasion, perception, and some of the other social skills important to the game.
On leaving the inn the same thugs tried to ambush them in an alleyway, having been embarrassed by the party, a chance to expose the players to a bit of pre combat roleplay and then move smoothly into there first ever combat session and also demonstrate the way that actions can then have consequences. I had already planned for a couple of outcomes of the combat, as expected the party where holding about level but a couple where getting close to wing made unconscious when the inn keeper and other townspeople ran to the aid of the party and chased off the thugs. This then created another antagonist that I could have pop up now and again until the party dealt with him.
All this was achieved in the first few hours and by the end of it the players had learnt some valuable lessons, been exposed to the basic mechanics of the game in a fairly safe and friendly environment and had built some emotional connection to the town and it’s people.
The final hour was spent exploring the town to look for some healing potions, interacting with and buying from a friendly owner of a store of low level magical goods and then finally looking at the notice board. The last thing the party did was decide which quest would be attempted first, this meant that I had a week to prepare 1 quest in depth without the players feeling like they had been doing filler work. They had hit some stuff, persuaded, charmed and been on the end of deception and made themselves stronger with some low level healing potions. They where ready to go and I knew exactly where they where going and I didn’t have to try and guess which quest would be run in session 1.
In the past I have tried where possible to have my sessions run like this, when I know a key decision will be coming up I try to pace things so it happens at or towards the end of a session rather then leave the session with no decision made. In the past I have even asked my party what are you going o do next week, if you don’t know tell me the top probable 2-3 so I can prepare somthing. Players will listen to and accept that and help you to give them a better experiance. Yes plans change and yes I’ve the week they may come up with somthing very different, but communicating with them makes life so much simpler.