Call today: 866-511-1719

How to Start a Conversation with Attendees on the Show Floor

I read a nice article the other day, so I have expanded on it for your reading and learning enjoyment. As they say, there’s always room for improvement, right? So whether you’re new to the trade show scene or are a seasoned veteran, maybe it’s time to review how you approach expo attendees.

“What do I do?”

Whoa, slow down. Before the show even starts, you and your booth staff should have a game plan in place, which outlines your goals and how to achieve them. Your staff should spend time practicing your talking points, learning the benefits of your product/service, and reviewing how you will qualify attendees, or separate potential clients from the others. Here at Tradeshows And Displays Inc., this is a part of what we call “Trade Show Preparedness”— knowing ahead of time what to do when the show floor opens.

Be friendly and engaging.

Be friendly and engaging.


“What should I say?”

Start by asking a question that tells the attendee what you do. When you share relevant information about yourself first, you are giving your visitors a reason to feel comfortable introducing themselves to you. Here are four ways you could phrase this initial question:

1. Are you looking for (your product/service)?
2. Does your company ever need or use (type of offering)?
3. Are you doing anything with (segment of industry)?
4. Do you ever have trouble with (specific pain point)?

These are yes/no questions, and the attendee has an easy out. Face it: Many attendees do not need or want what you do. However, some of the attendees are your target market, and you want to get to those ones… the qualified leads… quickly. When they say yes, you can begin qualifying them, but in a conversational way. Ask the attendee open-ended questions. In doing this, you will have an opportunity to better understand your visitor’s situation and tailor your explanations accordingly. See what I said there? I said understand. To begin to understand, you have to listen. Hence the open-ended questions.

Listen and learn.

Listen and learn.

Then what should I do?”

Smile, listen and allow the conversation to progress naturally. Don’t stress about the specifics, but be sure to follow the commandments of exhibiting, such as no eating or drinking, put your cell phone away, and make an appropriate amount of eye contact with each visitor. Help your visitors feel comfortable. Be respectful and maintain a positive attitude. When you appear to be enjoying yourself, it will be easier for your visitor to act in kind.

Your main goal with each encounter is not to give the hard sell. Yes, you read that correctly. You should have set some specific goals for the show beforehand, and one of them is certainly to identify and qualify potential new clients. If they want to make a purchase on the spot, great! But beginning a relationship with interested parties (i.e., qualified leads) is the real success. Just be sure to execute your plan to follow up with them, or you just wasted tons of time and money.


“How can I keep up my positive attitude?”

Remember that the attendees have probably paid to be there or, at bare minimum, have taken time from their work to be there, and they have a vested interest in something at this event (perhaps your product/service). Most of the attendees you meet will appreciate your inquiry; if they are not in the market for your product/service, they’ll probably just say so. This isn’t door-to-door cold calling, or intrusive telemarketing. Everyone in the building has something in common with everyone else. For a booth staffer like you, who is actively trying to interact with new attendees, even the worst that could happen (hearing “no thanks”) is nothing to worry about. Plus, you will likely learn something new about your industry.


“How can I draw them in?”

As stated earlier, smile, make eye contact, and make yourself available/approachable. Beyond the people factor, however, your displays should play a role by catching the eye of attendees walking the aisles, and quickly piquing their interest. This makes them notice your booth amid the clutter of the trade show floor, giving you a chance to greet them or strike up a conversation. So, you must have good displays and good graphics behind you, both literally and figuratively!

What are your trade show conversation starters?




What are YOUR thoughts on all this? We’d like to hear your comments!

Call or email us for information on our products! 630-860-1661 or

Since 1989

Helping Exhibitors With

Trade Show Preparedness

One Booth At a Time…

About Joan Weis