In my last blog I mentioned the exhibitors who will be at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition, who want to share their products and services with you. Sure, it’s their job to be there, but 2 days exhibiting is a hard slog. It requires planning, dedication and above all tactics to keep going until the bitter end. For those of you who have never had the dubious pleasure of being an exhibitor yourself, here’s a sneaky peek behind the scenes…..
First things first – SETTING UP
When exibiting at an event such as ACE, set up takes place the day before. Make sure you arrive on the train or in a very small car, so that you don’t have to transport or have any responsibility for the pop-up stand. Any new colleagues in the team will be eager to impress, so throw into conversation a week or so before the event “you’re ok to chuck the pop-up stand in your car aren’t you Ranjit?”. Ranjit will agree, of course!
The pop-up stand is the bane of exhibitors’ lives, not least because the wretched thing does nothing like “pop-up”. It requires a PhD in Civil Engineering to erect. It is prone to having panels fall off as the magnets become worn over time. It comes in an enormous and awkward carrying case.
No. Do not accept responsibility for the pop-up stand.
Yes, you want to look professional. Of course you do. But there’s nothing professional about wincing as you walk or, horror of horrors, having to kick your shoes off behind your table. One rule – for men and women – COMFORT OVER STYLE.
GETTING PEOPLE TO TALK TO YOU
Some gregarious exhibitors relish the opportunitiy to get out on the exhibition floor and talk to new people. Others find it a little more difficult to strike up a conversation about their product or service. If only there was a way to entice people to your stand. If only there was something that would make people draw nearer, and perhaps engage in conversation.
It’s very important for exhibitors to pace themselves. Being on their feet for 2 days solid, plus travel. setting up and taking down the dreaded pop-up stand takes a huge amount of effort. The less experienced may make the mistake of, ummm, overindulging on the night in between the 2 exhibition days which makes day 2 little short of pure torture for those hapless individuals. There is not an awful lot that can be done about this (apart from the overindulging part – they should be in their hotel room with a mug of Ovaltine and in bed by 9pm, obviously).
However, there is one advanced conference tactic which may be deployed. See if you can spot it in use. It is the art of smiling for no longer than is absolutely necessary before relaxing facial muscles back to neutral expression (or even bordering on slightly grumpy, which is more prevalent on day 2). It looks a bit like this:
I really hope you enjoy the conference and exhibition. You probably won’t have time to look out for any of these exhibitor behaviours in action as you’ll be too busy soaking up your conference sessions and enjoying the exhibition itself. Trust me though, it’ll all be going on.
Especially the thing with the pop-up stand.