Booth Behavior
11 Tips for a Better Trade Show Presence

You can have the greatest product on the floor. You can have the best looking display. But if your staff isn’t at their best, you can still drive away potential customers. Here’s a quick rundown of eleven dos and don’ts to help you maximize your tradeshow presence.


1. Let attendees speak. Listen closely to what your visitors are saying. Launching into a sales pitch without knowing what your guest is looking for wastes both your time, and also loses you a valuable opportunity to learn more about your potential customers’ needs. Try to ask open-ended questions that encourage your visitors to tell you more about them.

2. Allow guests to explore your booth. You’ve put a lot of thought into designing your ideal booth. Rather than pounce on an attendee the moment they enter your space, give them a moment to explore, learn a little bit about you. Make sure you let them know you’re available to answer any questions, but also give them some breathing space.

3. Show some enthusiasm. This doesn’t mean you have to jump up and down with pom-poms, or talk like an auctioneer, or vigorously offer up fist bumps to everyone who comes to your space. But energy and a positive vibe are important. Pay attention to your body language. A smile goes a long ways.

4. Dress for the occasion. This doesn’t mean everyone must wear suit and ties. Nor does it mean, if you’re, say, a potato chip vendor, that all your staff should be dressed as potato chips. All it means is that everyone working your booth should be easily identifiable, whether its color coordinated T-shirts or clothing with your logo. Another wardrobe hint – wear comfortable shoes.

5. Rotate your staff. Closely related to the entry above. Make sure your booth staff gets a chance to take a breather now and then. Fifteen minutes rest for every two hours in the booth is pretty standard, and allows you and your staff to maintain focus and enthusiasm. Attendees may also be more likely to make repeat visits to your booth if they see fresh faces from time to time.

6.Offer your visitors something special. There are lots of other booths in the convention hall – what makes yours special? Maybe you’re holding a drawing for an iPad. Maybe you’re offering fresh fruit. Maybe your booth includes a comfortable sofa where weary trade show attendees can get off their feet for a moment. In addition to a friendly staff and your unbeatable value proposition, give folks another reason to stop by. Be creative, but make sure whatever you offer falls inline with your overall branding strategy – and ideally, that it is imprinted with your logo and contact info.

7. Keep your leads safe. You’ve maintained a winning trade show presence, established a number of good business relationships and gathered a wealth of information about a ton of potentially lucrative business contacts. Now don’t lose them. You would be surprised how often this happens in the rush to pack-and-go once a show ends. If you’re attending a multi-day event, it’s a good idea to back up your leads on an excel spreadsheet or other digital format each night.


8. Let staff engage in long conversations with each other. Visitors may be reluctant to interrupt. And when they are talking to each other, your staff can’t engage those people you are trying to reach. Let your staff know that talking on a cell phone while in the booth is considered unprofessional, as is eating or drinking in the booth.

9. Look bored. As stated previously, body language is important. Don’t stand in your booth looking out with your arms crossed – this can be seen as a sign of arrogance or dislike. Don’t lean on the booth furniture. If you look like you’re bored in the booth, why would anyone else want to come visit?

10. Fail to engage visitors. While you don’t want to pounce on visitors the second they cross your booth’s perimeter, you also don’t want them to feel neglected. Engage them. Let them know you’re available to answer any questions, but don’t come off as an overeager retail clerk (“can I help you?” is a phrase to be avoided). The more you are able to speak with your customers, the more you can learn about their needs.

11. Just collect business cards. Closely related to the entry above. While speaking with attendees, take notes. Fill out pre-printed lead slips. In many modern tradeshows, all the basic contact info you need is in scannable form on the attendee’s nametag, so focus on capturing more salient details about your potential clients.

These tips should help you get the most out of your trade show experience. For advice on what to do once the show has concluded, see Seven Successful Trade Show Follow-up Strategies.