First impression matters and as a visitor at a trade show, their decision would be based on how inviting a booth looks collectively which means as an exhibitor you are part of that package. There are a few tips you should consider implementing to the way your body language is perceived to ensure you starting yourself off on the best foot forward. If you are a first-time exhibitor, sometimes even the most basic things could ruin the way you are viewed from the customers point of view, even if you have the most extravagant custom exhibition booth. We’ve compiled a list of our top 15 body language tips for you to tick off for your next trade show event.
One of our top trade show body language tips is to smile! This indicates that you are happy and when customers see this it gives them comfort that you are not here because you have but because you want to and are having a good time. People naturally get drawn to happiness and it will pre-empt then to want to approach you and strike a conversation as they might be wondering what you are smiling about and maybe want to get a piece of it too!
Looking presentable means turning up to your booth looking fresh with formalwear, smelling nice and approachable. The opposite would be turning up looking tired and wearing rugged jeans and clothing that is not ironed, as a visitor you wouldn’t be excited about approaching that booth yet alone speaking to that person. Looking sharp also helps to indicate quality service and products, it means you value presentability which gives your customers a higher incentive to invest or purchase from you.
Confidence shows that you know what you are talking about and that you fully understand your products and services and that is what people want to deal with. Exhibitors who are not confident will scare customers away (this includes hiring staff who are untrained) and will affect their trust in your business if you or your staff cannot confidently answer questions it makes it very difficult for a customer comfortably spend their money on your business.
Firm handshakes imply trust and is a polite way to welcome and greet your customer. However, you may need to be careful as for certain countries they may actually prefer not to handshake for religious reasons, so if they choose not to handshake don’t take it personally. Instead, you can pivot off this and find out about their background and make them welcomed through verbal communication.
Maintain Eye Contact
Eye contact implies how interested you are in your conversation with the customer, so the more eye contact you provide its means you are taking the conversation seriously and are listening attentively. Eye contact will keep your customer engaged and lets them know that you are giving your fill attention, this gives them no reason to talk to a competitor. Not having eye contact is a common mistake that exhibitors make and are letting down their conversion rate.
Practice Active Listening
Spending the whole day speaking and listening to customers can become repetitive and research shows that we only remember 25 percent to 50 percent of what we hear (the other 50 percent could be critical information in securing a new client). Active listening is where you are not just trying to hear the words of what your customers are speaking about, but rather the complete message of what is being communicated. You can improve your communication skills by trying not to get distracted by other conversations around you and focus only on your potential client.
7. Keep your Arms Open
Visually keeping your arms open (as opposed to crossing them) indicates that you are open for discussion and welcoming to anyone who is looking to approach you for a chat. Crossing your arms is a natural gesture that suggests defensiveness and implies you are feeling anxious or uneasy and visually just looks less welcoming which ultimately prevents people from entering your booth.
8. Avoid Sitting Down
Sitting down naturally indicates that you are tired, and it appears uninviting to customers because it will look like you want to be avoided so you can rest. If you are tired, better to take this elsewhere rather that sitting down in a location where you’d want to encourage visitors to enter your booth.
9. Practice Mirror Behavior
Customers feel more comfortable through familiarity, this means that if you have the same body language as them (such as standing and leaning on one arm on the bar table) – customers are more likely to feel as if they are speaking to someone who knows exactly what they are talking about which means less critical about your business and more about developing a connection with you who is representing your business.
10. Don’t Eat at Your Booth
Eating at your booth can seem like a lunchroom and negatively impacts on how customers feel about it when they see this. In a way it indicates that whatever you are presenting is less value by allowing yourself or staff to eat inside your booth. It will also deter customers from comfortably approaching you because they probably do not want to disturb you while you eat. Make sure you have extra staff so they can man your booth while you go outside for food when you are hungry.
11. Approach Booth Visitors
Give your visitors visual indication that you want to speak to them by politely approaching them to initiate a conversation. Sometimes customers just need to see that initiative from exhibitors to show them that you are interested in introducing yourselves and ready to assist with any questions they may have. If you do not approach them they would feel as if you were not interested and this lack of attention to drive them to leave your booth without even giving you a chance to pitch anything to them.
12. Don’t Ambush Browsers
Browsers are unavoidable everywhere you go; they don’t necessarily know what they are looking for so asking them would be pointless. We’d suggest giving them some time to actually walk around your booth, so they have a chance to educate themselves about what your business is about and figure out for themselves first whether or not it is something that useful for them to invest in. A clear indication is if they are not looking around for assistance, they just want to be left alone for now. Another strategy you may want to consider is preparing some event merchandise because these will help draw customers to you and avoids any “ambushing”.
13. Use Hand Gestures Wisely
Hand gestures help to emphasise certain things you want to convey to your customer, it could indicate the scale of something or how quick something is and adding hand gestures into your conversation helps to keep your customer engaged and excited about what you are talking about. For some, communication through visual means is much more powerful than through speech.
14. Don’t Invade Personal Space
This is where you may become too aggressive and approach customers directly outside of your booth area. There is a reason why visitors have not approached your booth yet and it could be for a variety of reasons, but it will appear rude if you blatantly approach customers out of nowhere, especially without any prior eye contact. Another thing is to not stand too close to each other either, give yourselves some space as breathing room for a more relaxed conversation – it will feel uncomfortable and distracting otherwise.
15. Read their Body Language
Understanding your customers body language can give you clues to how they are feeling or what they are thinking, and you can use this to your advantage and address those concerns. Perhaps customers don’t want to initiate a conversation, but if you manage to read their body language and understand the situation you can start that conversation to make it easier for them to contribute and feel more comfortable about it. Rather than directing it at them specifically you could refer to it generally as what “some people may think”.
To conclude, body language can be very difficult because for some people because they do it subconsciously without even knowing they could be sending the wrong message. Our trade show body language tips gives you skills that can be taught and practiced that will help you succeed at trade shows because sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference. Body language is one thing, but having the right exhibition booth is another large task to make sure you get it done right and the team at UCON Exhibitions are experts in that field so while you practice your body language skills let us handle your booth for you.