Tag Archives: Booth Behavior

7 Keys to Regaining Control of Conversations At Tradeshows

How Can You Handle Talkative Tom’s and Chatty Cathy’s?

When you are at a tradeshow, convention or other event, your most valuable assets are time and focus.  You need to invest them well to succeed, either as exhibitor or as attendee.

Having tactics to help you disengage from conversations, at the right moment, is as important as preparing how to start a conversation.

Here are 7 keys to help you regain control of the conversation – first from the point of view of you as exhibitor, dealing with someone overstaying their visit, and then when you, as attendee, cannot get free from an overzealous booth staffer.

1: Show appreciation and solidify the connection

Once you have asked/heard enough to qualify (or disqualify) your visitor, say “I’d like to be able to give you my fullest attention.”

2: Set up the next step

Then lead them to the next step, which should be a followup call or appointment.  Right then and there, you can gauge their interest by asking how soon and in what fashion they’d like to continue.

Say: “I’d really like to talk about this more.  Shall we pick this up the next time we talk?  Would phone or email be best to followup with you? Mornings or afternoons?”

Or if they are raising questions which are better dealt with in a longer conversation or by connecting them with someone else, say “I have to research this when I get back to the office.  I will …. ” (and then note what you commit to).

3: Fast-track the next step at the show

What if you don’t want to diminish your effectiveness in the booth, but they seem like a really good lead and you don’t want them to lose them to a competitor with more time on their hands?

Your best bet is to set up a specific time at that show to continue the conversation.  If you’ve been able to staff appropriately, you can take them to a quiet area then, or you will have specific times set up for appointments at the show, and have available slots to offer. If you need to improvise, set up a meeting at a meal or break.

4: Treat everyone well even if they don’t seem to be a good match

If you suspect they’re just lonely and figure you for an easy audience, look them in the face and say, “I wish I had time to talk to everyone as long as I’d like, but I’m afraid I cannot.”   It’s true and it’s not offensive.

If you start asking about next steps and they suddenly get vague, then you’ve clarified it’s not a match.

On the other hand, when you get down to specifics — they might actually ‘fess up to having an RFP they’re working on that’s about to go out.

5: Are you the attendee and it’s the exhibitor who’s latched onto you?

Even as an attendee, you can simply say “I don’t want to keep you from meeting up with other attendees” or “I wish we could talk more but I’m afraid I don’t have enough time.”

This poor exhibitor is either so insecure that they’ve latched onto you, or so poorly trained that they think they should be “selling” you on the spot. In either case, they are well on their way to “proving” to themselves or their boss that “tradeshows don’t work”!

6: There’s power in the truth

Fib or tell the truth? Some suggest it’s easiest to say you need to go to the bathroom or fake a phone call.  I would not make something up.

There’s power in speaking the truth, and I’d always suggest wording it with a sense of etiquette.

Talky Tom or Chatty Cathy could – handled appropriately – become a great client, vendor or resource.

7:  Your time is limited, you must keep your focus on your objectives

You need to be able to control your time and your focus when you are at tradeshows and other events, either as exhibitor or visitor.

Take these steps to disengage when it’s time and keep focusing on your objectives, and you will be one of the ones who knows that “tradeshows do work when we work them effectively”.

Comments?  I’d love to hear if any of these ideas resonate with you.


Deborah Elms is CEO and head of the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  She is passionate about helping businesses grow by creating and retaining customers through the effective use of tradeshows & events, including high impact, professionally designed display booths, promotional marketing and guidance on what works and what does not.

You can follow Deborah on Twitter at @D_Elms and Imprinted Originals at @TradeshowsMdEZ.

(c) 2011 Imprinted Originals LLC


Directors Chairs: Holiday Gift or A Way to Improve Tradeshow Results?

I’m only partly speaking tongue-in-cheek in suggesting a Directors Chair as a holiday gift. One of our clients, who finally replaced an endless stream of rentals with a portable display, received a chair the following holiday season from a grateful staff.

Such a “gift” to your sales or field marketing staff — or yourself, if that’s your role — could likewise be considered a gift to your organization by helping achieve your tradeshow or event objectives.

Let’s get this over first — it’s always better to be standing rather than sitting in your tradeshow booth. It shows you’re available — ready to walk over, shake hands and start a conversation.

Sometimes, however, you’re faced with a multi-day show and not enough staff on hand to rotate as you’d like, or there are gaps when attendance in the exhibit hall lags. And let’s face it, sometimes we just need to take a load off, and give our legs and feet a break.

Even so, you don’t want to have anyone sitting in your booth in a regular height chair, especially slouching behind a table.

It sends the wrong message. It says someone is much more interested in their own comfort than their visitors. In addition, a table creates a moat between you and your visitors. It causes doubt that you really want someone to stop and talk with you.

A Directors Chair will set up a different dynamic.

The height of a Directors Chair positions you at or near a standing elevation, signaling a willingness to engage, so anyone entering your space will feel more comfortable approaching you.

At the same time, after grabbing a brief break, you — or your staff — will be prepar moved ed to handle visitors to your booth in a more energized, friendly, and professional manner. The result will be not only greater comfort, but almost certainly a larger pool of qualified leads.

So, call it a holiday gift or not, but both booth staff and show results can benefit from bringing a Directors Chair or two into your booth!

Directors Chairs and Stools Made in the USA

We have a very special relationship with an American manufacturer of Directors Chairs and  wooden stools that we rely on because they provide great quality, a lot of options, and excellent service. We truly like being able to offer their products to our clients.

Custom-made to order in the USA using American Beech hardwoods, these chairs are available in 3 styles and 3 heights (the 24 in. and 30 in. being recommended, as mentioned above).

By adding a logo or message using one of four decoration methods (embroidery, screen printing, thermal and photo film transfer) and selecting from a range of material colors and frame finishes, your chair will fit into any environment.

If you agree that giving your sales or field marketing staff — or yourself — a directors chair would make a worthy gift and also help achieve your goals at upcoming tradeshows and events, there’s still plenty of time!

Ready to take a look?


Workshop: “How to Make the Most of Your Trade Show Experience”

Workshop: ” How to make the most of your Trade Show Experience”

Learn tips and traps in preparation for exhibiting at the SCWBEC Exposition and other tradeshows.  Bring questions!

Organization: Suffolk County Women’s Business Enterprise Coalition

Speaker: Deborah Elms, CEO, Imprinted Originals

Date: February 11, 2010 from 10:15 – 11:30

More information: http://www.scwbec.org

Postponed due to snow:  February 25, 2010

Location: Small Business Development Center

Stony Brook University’s Research & Development Park, Building #17

1512 Stony Brook Rd, Stony Brook, NY 11794



There’s an awful lot to learn about what to do “at the show”, and most of it depends on planning and preparation in advance.

Here’s a Tradeshow 101 list of 10 “Do” and 10 “Don’t” tips:


  • Set up clear goals for the show. Your marketing materials should be focused on your message, and your banners and exhibit should clearly display exactly who you are and what you are offering.
  • Everyone in your booth must know the goal: whether it is new prospects, reinforcing existing relationships, or finding out more about your market. Clearly defined goals help you keep focus and track results.
  • Use good booth behavior. Stand near the front of the booth, make eye contact, and start up conversations. Never hide behind your displays and try not to block them either!
  • Everyone must know how to qualify and get information from prospects.  Ask for specifics.  “Why are you here today?”  Write down their questions, concerns, and interests – plus anything personal that will help jog their memory (and yours) later about the conversation.
  • Practice good communications – listen more than you talk. Learn how to disengage from unqualified prospects politely – thank them, show them you have noted their concerns, ask how they prefer to be contacted, and move on.
  • Make it interactive! Offer information, give little quizzes, provide tip sheets. Engage their brain and they will remember you. And you will learn more about them, which will help in your follow-up.
  • Have everyone dressed in synch with the exhibit theme or colors. With “identity-ware” staff or denim shirts, your company name should be on the left breast and, optionally, personal names on the right side.
  • Provide giveaways that remind your visitors of your products and services. They should be useful or striking, so prospects will take them back home or to the office, and see your name on a regular basis.
  • Anticipate typical questions and practice answers, including questions to ask in return. Rehearse demonstrations in advance. Hand out materials only at the end of presentations, to help you keep their attention meanwhile.
  • At longer shows, have daily meetings on what is and isn’t working. Keep your team’s morale up!


  • Don’t sit down, eat, or use cell phones in your booth. Don’t stand around talking with each other!
  • Don’t hand out brochures or giveaways without getting information in return. Annotate your leads as you go.
  • Don’t arrive without a plan for following up on leads. Send a thank you, possibly including a gift, to the most likely or most valuable prospects, and if you can remind them of your conversation, all the better.
  • Don’t have just anyone staff your booth without training and being brought up to speed on your objectives.  Deploy each person within the booth “ecology” based on their strengths.
  • Don’t overwhelm prospects with long answers when a short answer might do.
  • Don’t assume every prospect is a sale on the spot. Better to use your time to build relationships.
  • Don’t forget to introduce yourself to the other exhibitors – they are potential clients, vendors and partners.
  • Don’t say too much without knowing who you are talking to. Be careful about providing your competitors with business intelligence.
  • Don’t let your people focus only on the products or services they know. Make sure they know who to refer a prospect to, and how, for best results.
  • Don’t forget – trade shows are about putting your brand, products and services into tangible form for customers and prospects. Keep everything consistent, professional and on track with your show objectives!