Banish the “Little Voice”

A fairly new exhibitor recently shared that what holds her back in the booth is the “little voice” on her shoulder who keeps telling her, “No one wants to talk to you … you’re just another salesperson.” I think every exhibitor could admit to battling that little voice at one time or another, but how can you banish it?

First, don’t take it personally. At any given show, your product or service won’t be of interest to 100% of the audience. Your goal is to create a booth that attracts your most likely prospects. In fact, that’s the first way to avoid hearing the “voice”: Design for attraction. Create an interactive booth that is visually appealing or sparks curiosity among attendees and let your booth do the talking for you!

The second strategy is to start the conversation before the show opens. Get your hands on the list of pre-registered attendees if possible. If not, send out invitations to your own list. It’s surprising how few exhibitors do this, yet what amazing results it brings! People will arrive at your booth because they already know who you are and are interested in what you offer … much easier than convincing a complete stranger to stop and check out how fabulous you are!

And finally, spend some time thinking through ways to start the conversation without pitching. Trade shows are ideal venues for improv, so you might even want to role-play with a co-worker or friend to practice handling all kinds of random interactions. Remember you don’t want to come across as scripted, but you do want to sound confident and have just the right words for the occasion. That comes with practice, trust me!

So next time that “little voice” comes calling, just remember these tips … then flick it right off your shoulder!

© 2011 Marlys K. Arnold  (Reprinted from the July 2011 TradeShowTips Online. To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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About the Author:
With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. She travels the country consulting and training both exhibitors and show managers, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image (2002), host of the Trade Show Insights podcast and creator of the ExhibitorEd training kit. She can be reached at 816-746-7888 or

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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