February 5, 2013
by Andy Saks
Most trade show booth presentation scripts are stuffed with facts, figures and formal prose.
After presenting at more than 200 trade shows over 17 years for every kind of company, I can tell you for certain that approach doesn’t work. It tires and alienates the very prospects you’ve worked so hard to draw into your booth.
Here are ten tips to try instead:
No one in the history of speaking ever complained that a booth presentation wasn’t long enough. Say your peace and exit stage left. Aim for 5 minutes in length, which is just long enough to explain the basics, tease the benefits and get out of the way. If you’re running over 10 minutes, get someone outside your company to tell you what to cut. Your audience will thank you for respecting their time.
Trade show presenters often try to squeeze in every possible product benefit, just in case #67 really sways ‘em. Resist the temptation. Stick to your 2-3 biggest benefits that best differentiate you from competing booths. Don’t try to answer every potential question; you want your audience members to have questions. That’s what motivates them to stay in your booth and talk to your staff after you’re done.
Don’t force your audience to decipher overly complex or flowery prose. Set them at ease with a friendly, conversational style. “You’ll increase sales by 25%” makes the point quicker and easier than “You’ll experience a 25% increased sales delta for the balance sheet metrics I referred to in slide 3.” And avoid vague, overcooked marketing-speak; trust me, everyone in your industry “facilitates a complete turn-key solution.”
Audience members care about themselves, not your imaginary sample customers. Always aim your wording at the people in the chairs in front of you, i.e. “ABC software lowers YOUR CRM costs while keeping YOUR profits up” instead of “Those in the CRM industry will lower their costs…”
Don’t assume everyone in your audience knows the lingo; many don’t, and are too embarrassed to ask. Enlighten them (“HDMI, which as you know stands for ‘high-definition multimedia interface’…”) and bask in their gratitude.
Customers only embrace a feature when they know how it actually helps them. Link your feature (“It weighs one-third less…”) to their bottom-line benefit (“…which lowers your shipping costs by 23%.”), which almost always involves reducing time, effort and expense, and raising income, ease and enjoyment.
Familiar, evocative imagery beats vague, bland statements every time. “Move-in day can be stressful” is accurate, but “Imagine your knees wobbling as you lug 78 heavy boxes across your dried-out front lawn on a scorching July day…” paints the picture, evokes the pain point, and gets the sale.
Feature lists are painfully dull and hard to remember. Use stories, statistics, analogies, quotes, props, tap dancing, anything surprising and colorful to drive your point home. The more creatively you say it, the more your audience will understand it, appreciate it, remember it and act on it.
No one likes listening to lectures, especially in a trade show environment, with so many distractions so close by. Spontaneous interaction with your audience turns your monologue into an engaging conversation and shows your audience you really care about them. Ask questions and welcome feedback. It lowers your speaking anxiety too!
Humor keeps your audience relaxed and attentive, and paints you as someone they’d enjoy working with. Find common pain points and make light of them. If comedy just ain’t your thing, bring free stuff.
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ABOUT SPARK PRESENTATIONS
Spark Presentations is a private company founded in 1998 that provides presentation skills training and speech coaching for executives, salespeople, marketers and other businesspeople, plus booth staff training for trade show exhibitors.
Spark also books professional presenters and public speakers to represent its clients at high-profile events, in roles like keynote speaker, trade show booth presenter, master of ceremonies (emcee) and auctioneer, as well as on camera talent and voice talent.
Spark’s client list includes large corporations like AT&T, Best Buy, FedEx, Hyundai, Intel, Kimberly-Clark, Olympus, Owens-Corning, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and Volvo; high-tech industry players like AMD, Atrion, Citrix, Gigamon, and Symantec; service organizations like Vistage, 1nService and NERCOMP; and New England institutions like the Boston Jewish Film Festival.
Spark’s owner, Andy Saks, is also the author of The Presentation Playbook Series, a three-volume set of books that help businesspeople master common presentation situations by building and running speaking “plays” like a coach or player calls a key play in a game.