Seven or eight hours on your feet on hard show floors can be a gruelling experience. Are you ready for the challenge?
Oh yes, I can still remember those long and painful days. Those were the days following the nights when I had partied just a little too hard. Drunk just a wee bit more than I should have. Slept nowhere near as many hours as I needed too.
The days that followed that kind of routine were long and slow and painful. And probably nowhere near as productive as they should have been. Exhibitions can have that effect on many a novice exhibitor.
You’re in a different environment to the norm. Show teams are encouraged to “bond.” There may be clients to entertain. All in all, it can be easy to sabotage your at-show performance.
Plan for success and you can still have fun
I was young, but I soon learned to change things around. Why? Because I was very focused on being a successful salesperson and being tired or hungover or both, was definitely sabotaging my results. Here are some tips that I’d like to share that can help you excel as an in-hall event performer, without being a killjoy when it comes to socialising.
Get your head straight before you ever get to an event
Remember why you are being assigned to the show. It’s about business. It’s not as some see it, a chance for a break or mini holiday. This is not “light duties” but a proper sales assignment.
Getting my head right meant thinking in advance of a show, about what it was I wanted to achieve.
For certain, there would be the objectives I had been given by my boss. What was my plan for meeting those?
Lead or sales targets were usually included in those objectives. They formed the basis of my personal goals for each event. But on top of these, I added my own. The additional items came from the opportunities that I could see by thinking about things in advance.
Things like inviting key clients and hot prospects to meet me at the show. Thinking about the opening phrases I could use with stand visitors. Swotting-up on the products that we were there to promote.
The total of all of these things provided the measures that I would rate myself against once the show was over.
One way to ensure that you stay focused during a show day is to plan out each hour. This will keep you on track not only for your sales and stand duties but for things like your in-hall diet too. More on that aspect of exhibiting will be seen below.
The benefit of planning your day by the hour is that you can measure how you are doing in relation to your lead target. Focusing like this will help you to avoid those standing around chatting with colleague scenarios that you can sometimes see on other stands.
Log when your clients are due to visit. Know when your breaks are going to be so that they don’t clash. Make time to look at the show even if that is before it opens or once it has closed. Be present for your team meetings and contribute. At the end of the day make notes about how you think the show went that day, the things you learned and what you might improve on.
Most important, double-check that you have accurate notes to refer to for any promising sales discussions that took place that day.
Planning your show days in advance means that you can also plan to exercise too. If exercising is a regular part of your normal routine, there’s no reason to stop just because you are away from home. Most hotels now have gyms. Some have pools. And of course, you can always run or walk.
Exercising regularly isn’t only good for your body – it’s good for your mind.
The key thing is not to overdo it. Show days can be long especially when they continue into the evening, but a workout before the workday day begins will make you feel stronger mentally. Squeezing in a run or a swim after a day in an exhibition hall can help you unwind. Whether you work out pre-or post-show, you should sleep well, another important element of show fitness.
We are what we eat
Leading exhibition venues now realise that food plays an important part in exhibiting success.
More salads, soups and vegetables are appearing on their menus. This is no accident. Venues know that better-fed exhibitors, will have more energy throughout the day and that can only aid their show performance. And if you are successful, you will want to exhibit again. This is the reasoning for adding those healthier options.
And that’s great because it means that you don’t have to survive on a diet of Danish pastries and sandwiches each day of a show. I used to do that and it’s not a diet that I would recommend for feeling your best.
As a back-up, bring your own supply of bananas, energy bars, and healthy snacks to the show to keep yourself firing on all cylinders throughout the day. Eat a good breakfast and you’ll have energy and no distractions from your stomach until lunchtime. See this article from the Independent for more on breakfast.
Most exciting of all… Coffee is now good for us. Well, this week anyway. Just don’t fuel your whole day on the coffee and biscuit diet. That’s definitely not the diet of champions.
Exhibition halls can dehydrate you fast. You are contending with air conditioning, heating and stand lighting. And of course, talking to stand visitors.
Keeping yourself topped-up with water will help you stay alert through the day. You’ll also ward-off headaches caused by dehydration.
The 1 AM “don’t worry, I’ll be fine in the morning” conversation …
Ah, the undoer of so many good resolutions and the start of so many others. As in, “I’m never going to drink again” and other similar vows taken after early morning wake-up calls.
Being hungover when you have a days work ahead of you is not a happy prospect and it is to be avoided at all costs.
You certainly won’t perform at your best feeling this way. Sticking to a sensible plan for post-show drinks will help you avoid the hangover blues next day.
By all means, do have a good time at your team dinners or post-show client meetings or at the show party. Fun is good. Just don’t overdo the vino or whatever other tipple is your drink of choice.
Sleep: Get your zzzz’s
Athletes know that sleep is a key ingredient of success in sport. They know that a lack of sleep not only hampers their physical performance, it can affect their moods and approach to life and training.
And this holds true for exhibitors too. You will be more alert and energetic throughout the working day if you have had a good seven to eight hours sleep the night before.
Try to give yourself some unwind time before bed as this will help you sleep. Bring a book to read, take a bath and if you are having problems with jet lag, read this article.
Exhibiting like a Pro requires a variety of skills
Being a successful exhibitor, whether as stand manager or as a member of the stand team, does require a skillset. Those skills can include pre-show organisation, team motivation, and lead management skills. But don’t underestimate self-management. Without that, many of the other skills are harmed or negated.
Oh, and by the way, don’t forget those comfortable shoes. Just in case you thought I had missed one of the most important parts of successful exhibiting advice. Your feet and legs will thank you.