You stand on a dark stage. The sound of the audience behind the curtain is barley audible due to the din of your own rapid breathing and the blood pounding past your ears. The curtain opens and light floods your eyes. Applause bursts from the crowd then falls away. Someone coughs. Anxiety washes over you, so you do the only thing you can think of, the one thing you have been preparing the past months to do: you say your line.
And the rest is easy.
At first, running a trade show may seem very different from performing in a play – but think about it. Your exhibit is basically a stage. And you and your staff are put before thousands of people throughout the exhibition.
Fumble a line in a play and you may blow the scene; fumble a line at a trade show and you may blow a sale.
That’s why it’s important for you and your team to practice, and the way to do that is with staff training.
It is essential that your staff have complete buy-in to your story at the show. They have to know what is expected of them individually and what your company’s broad intentions are for the show. If they fully understand their part of the experience, they are more likely to feel indispensable at the show.
To start, it’s always helpful to have sales or customer support personnel familiarize your staff with your products. Hearing their experiences will help your staff understand pain points, prepare for questions, and anticipate needs while on the show floor.
Additionally, your sales staff may be able to help prepare your staff for the experience of selling on the show floor (which, to be fair, can be much more distracting than selling in the field). Roleplaying can also help your staff prepare for show interactions.
Next, there are actually ways for your staff to get hands-on preparation before you get to the big show. There may be volunteer events in your area that could simulate the experience of maintaining an exhibit and working in a busy, exhibition environment.
For example, you could have staff focus on communication techniques. What verbal and nonverbal cues can your staff practice to help them engage with attendees? Look at how they stand and hold their arms. What could that convey to a crowd?
Now that you have your staff prepared, you can feel comfortable heading to the show. The day before or the morning of your show, you should to hold a pre-show meeting.
You can start by making sure that everyone knows where to pick up their badges and how best to get to the location of the exhibition. If needed, this is the time to assign tasks to the crew, including responsibilities for exhibit teardown (you don’t want a bunch of people taking a hike when they are needed the most).
Remind your staff that this exhibit is the first impression that most of the attendees will have about your company. Your staffers are ambassadors of your company. How they appear and act reflects on everybody.
You could even prepare small cheat sheets about your products (including info pertinent to the event, such as pricing, features, availability, specs, etc.). They may not be needed, but a quick-reference guide could come in handy should a staffer start to feel the pressure of attendee’s questions on the show floor.
Finally, be sure to tell these folks that you appreciate their efforts. As you know, exhibiting requires long hours, time away from home, and a great deal of effort. It’s important to make your staff aware that their work is valued.
For even more assistance ensuring your staff ready for the show give The Trade Group a call at 800-343-2005. We’ll help your keep everything organized at the show.