Eight Effortless Exercises to Improve Tradeshow Performance by Susan
Eight Effortless Exercises to Improve Tradeshow Performance
by Susan Friedmann
Tradeshow exhibitors have something in common with the rest of humanity:
We’ll do what is easy, but avoid what those things we find to be or perceive as
difficult. It doesn’t really matter what sphere we’re talking about: human
nature dictates that more often than not, we seek out the smoother path, the
gentler grade, the easier climb.
So in order to appeal to human nature and improve your tradeshow performance, I
offer you this: Eight Effortless Exercises you can do with your team. Nothing
here is particularly difficult, yet all are devastatingly effective. If your
team can implement what they learn during these exercises on the tradeshow
floor, I can guarantee that you’ll be very pleased with the result.
1. Go Over the Goals
Booth staffers function best when they have full knowledge of what as an
organization, you’re trying, to achieve at the show. A show where you’re
launching a new product and want to raise brand awareness is, in some ways, a
fundamentally different exercise than a show where you’re simply attempting to
reinforce existing relationships and move as much product as possible. Meet with
your team and spell out exactly what you hope to accomplish. This is a good time
to let them know what you expect on an individual as well as an organizational
2. Play Trivial Pursuit
How well does your team know your products and services? How about your
company’s structure, organization, and public image? You might be surprised.
Test your team with a friendly game modeled after Trivial Pursuit™ or Jeopardy™.
Instead of random trivia questions, use questions centered on your products and
services. Make sure these questions range from the everyday -- detailing
features and benefits -- to the relatively off-topic -- are your products
manufactured in the country? If not, where, and under what conditions? This
exercise will reinforce product knowledge and help your team be prepared for
whatever questions come their way.
3. Body Language Bingo
This is a fun exercise. Snap pictures (or use pictures you already have) at a
tradeshow and industry event. You want images of people slouching, eating,
ignoring attendees, chatting with peers, and otherwise behaving badly at shows.
(I wouldn’t recommend using pictures of your own people, in the interest of
company harmony, but that’s up to you!)
Create little bingo cards detailing the bad behaviors, and distribute them to
your team. Display the images on a screen and have them identify problem
behaviors. Again, this will reinforce to your team what they shouldn’t be doing.
For a little fun, give the first person to call “Bingo” a prize.
4. Sew Their Pockets Shut
Ok, you don’t really want to sew their pants pocket shut -- but consider
distributing double sided sticky tape that your staffers can use to close their
pockets. This will encourage them to keep their hands out of their pockets, a
behavior that tradeshow attendees consistently identify as unattractive and
Remember to play fair. Give your booth staffers something productive to do with
their hands to overcome the natural tendency to fidget. Often, having something
official to do with their hands relieves a lot of anxiety.
5. The Name Game
Relationship building is easier and more effective when you use the other
person’s name. Study after study has shown that people universally respond
positively to hearing their own name, as long as it doesn’t seem affected and
Do role playing exercises focused on learning the other person’s name and
working it naturally into conversation. To make it more realistic, have both
parties wear fake ‘show badges’ with a name that’s not their own.
6. Do the Demo
Before the show, have your team members actually practice the demo you expect
them to perform during the show. This gives them time to familiarize themselves
with the equipment -- critical, as many salespeople generally aren’t ‘hands on’
with the merchandise -- and become comfortable demonstrating it.
7. Teach the Technology
If you’re using card scanners or other lead gathering technology, schedule a
time to actually teach your team how to use it. You want your team to be
proficient with the equipment and not spend valuable, limited show time trying
to figure out how to work the scanner.
8. Finesse Follow Up
Maximize the return you realize on the show by following up on every lead.
Delegate responsibilities before the show and introduce an element of
accountability: simply by letting your team know what they’re expected to do and
when they’re expected to do it, you’ll see a marked increase in return.
You see? That wasn’t so hard! These effortless exercises don’t require much in
the way of equipment or money, just a little time. Considering the impact that
enhanced tradeshow performance can have on your bottom line, isn’t it worth it?
Written by Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY,
internationally recognized expert working with companies to increase their
profitability at tradeshows. Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a
small Market” and “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies.”