How to survive trade shows

Trade show survival

As a magician and presenter, I have experienced most performing environments. I thought that I was ready for them all, and then I became trade shows presenter! NOTHING prepares you for those demanding trade show days.

It can come as quite the shock when you first attend an exhibition. Long, tiring days with potentially thousands of visitors passing your stand. It is such an intense and unique environment that it can be very challenging to survive in. So here are some hints and tips learnt along the way while performing and presenting at trade shows.

  1. Be comfortable – Start with the basics. You need to be comfortable. You’re going to be on your feet for two or three days, maybe more, engaging with customers and potential customers. You will need to be at your best and the last thing you want is to be in physical pain because your new shoes are killing you or your shirt is collar is too tight. Make sure that your have been broken in and your new shirt fits. You must make sure that you can comfortably stand, sit and walk around or those long day will feel so much longer.
  2. Sleep! I know it’s tempting to escape after a long day; to go out with new friends and colleagues for a drink, but be aware of how much sleep you’ll actually need. While being on your feet all day and interacting may not sound like you’re climbing Everest, it is tough, both mentally and physically. You’ll need time to recover. Whatever sleep you get on a ‘normal’ day, get more when you’re at an exhibition!
  3. Eat well…but not TOO well! Not only does your body need sleep, but it needs energy for these long days too. The all you can eat breakfast buffet may seem like a good idea when you’re staying in a hotel but try to stick to the healthier options. Sure, you’ll get a lot of energy, but you’ll feel sluggish and bloated all day, especially if you’re not used to a hearty cooked breakfast. This is not the best time to be putting extra strain on your body. Have your usual breakfast and then snack throughout the day on fruit as you feel the need.
  4. Drink Water. Keeping hydrated will make a big difference to your energy levels throughout the day. Water doesn’t give you coffee breath, stain your teeth (or your shirt if you spill it) and nothing hydrates as well. So drink plenty of it. Even if you only alternate your usual coffee with water, you’ll notice a big difference.
  5. Realise that you’re in this for the long haul. Most trade shows are three days long, some stretch to 5. Pace yourself. You need to be able to give the last visitor on the third day as much quality attention as the first visitor on the first day. Keep your energy levels up and stay positive and open throughout the entire show. Remember, any one of the people at that show could turn out to be the perfect client.
  6. Always be prepared. The odds are that something will probably not go to plan during the trade show. That’s fine. It happens. You need to tell your staff to prepare for these setbacks. If a client doesn’t show for a big meeting, or your high tech attraction isn’t as attractive as you thought, acknowledge it, and then take action or move on! The last thing your business needs is for you and your staff to be negative for the rest of the day because something didn’t go to plan. YOU’RE there, YOU can adapt.

Trade shows can be very demanding but by looking after yourself physically and mentally, not only will you enjoy them a lot more, but you’re going to experience even better results from them. So stay positive, look after yourself and make sure you wear comfortable shoes!

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