Theater is theater, but when it comes to trade shows, business theater is high drama.
By injecting the theatrical into your company’s presence at a trade show or industry convention, you add value to your trade show exhibit appearance.
It takes a special skill for business presenters to capture an audience and mesmerize them with a persuasive message. Properly staged, your trade show booth can add excitement and drama to your product story.
The most effective trade show booth personnel require an actor’s flair for the dramatic and an ability to win over the audience. Similarly, if your company’s top guns are to deliver the convention’s keynote address, they need to be groomed to perform like Broadway actors.
A case in point was Microsoft’s Chairman Bill Gates at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2006. Gates gave the keynote address and was also able to highlight features of the new version of Windows designed to appeal to the average consumer. With engaging and inspiring articulation, Gates demonstrated new photo-editing tools and a revamped media player designed to improve the way Windows software tackles the most commonly used media files. Gates personally demonstrated the improved remote-control experience that would become part of the Media Center edition of Vista.
Using humor, Gates began his keynote speech by noting his recent appearance, along with his wife, Melinda, and U2’s Bono, as Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year.” He quickly added there was another major contender for that high-visibility award: “Probably if there had been one more hurricane, Mother Nature would have been on the cover,” he said. “For a lot of reasons, I’m glad that didn’t happen.”
Gates was natural, engaging, and compelling. He was thus able to inspire trade show attendees with his vision of the digital future. He also mesmerized his audience when he talked about the digital gadgets that would become instrumental parts of our future. Attendees lapped it up.
But what do you do if your company chairman is not Bill Gates? How do you find a business presenter to attract attention to your trade show appearance and give inspired information on your new product launch at your next trade show?
According to William Hall, Founder of the Fratelli Bologna company of San Francisco and a noted professional trade show presenter, the answer is simple: Capitalize on business theater. It has a human agenda, provokes thought, and provokes sales.
There are a variety of types of trade show presentations, including spectacles, educational presentations, and visionary presentations. The narrator follows a script, the public relations person pitches the audience like an evangelist, the CEO of the company motivates and inspires, and the demo jockey is a knowledgeable professor-type who demonstrates how to use a particular product or service.
It would be ideal to have a bit of all these types in one person—a presenter who can engage, entertain, inspire, and add flair to your sales story.
Start at the beginning. First ask, “What is my company’s purpose for exhibiting at a trade show?”
If the company wants to show its presence as part of the industry but has nothing new to say, then a magician, a comedy act, pool players, or battling robots can often suffice to dress up its act. But if the company needs a platform to educate trade show attendees and generate sales leads, then the smart move is to hire a professional presenter. The trade show is where business theater consultants attract, engage, and inform conference attendees.
If you are looking for a truly professional business theater presenter for your trade show display, Hall advises you consider the following characteristics:
1. The presenter at the trade show booth needs to look comfortable and confident and fit into your company’s image.
2. The presenter needs to give a fresh show every time. Trade show visitors need to feel that they are seeing the show/demo for the first time it has been given at your trade show exhibit.
3. The professional presenter needs to vary their voice pitch, rhythm, and use of storytelling techniques to thoroughly engage visitors.
4. The presenter’s body language needs to reinforce the company’s brand. That means the presenter has done their research and has a solid understanding of the company they represent.
Brands such as Yahoo! in Sunnyvale, Apple Inc. in Cupertino, eBay in San Jose, Google in Mountain View, Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, Oracle in Redwood City, and Sun Microsystems of Santa Clara all use professional presenters.
If you do it right, you can use the power of theater to drive your company sales at industry trade shows.