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3 Things to Consider Before Hosting a Live Speaker in Your Trade Show Booth


Some of you may be old enough to remember “The Amazing Kreskin”, a frequent guest with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show”. I met Kreskin at a trade show, where he attracted a huge, standing room only crowd to his incredible demonstration of ESP (Extra Sensory Perception). I recall the scene vividly, and even got his autograph. Do I remember the booth? No. Do I recall what they were selling? No. How many real potential customers did not have an opportunity to learn more about this company’s products because the crowd kept them away?
Many trade show attendees visit trade show booths for the opportunity to educate themselves on new products. You may be thinking what better way to give them the in-depth knowledge they’re looking for than by having a speaker in your booth. While that may sound like an easy way to get attention and even take some of the pressure off you and your staff, it can also come with some drawbacks. Here are three important factors to consider before inviting a live speaker:

1. Planning Is Everything
All aspects of trade show booth design require extensive planning. Having a speaker adds an extra layer of complexity to this process. First you must consider the logistics. Do you have the space in your booth for attendees to comfortably sit and watch your speaker? Standing room only is not likely to keep a crowd’s attention. Do the event organizers offer A/V equipment and A/V techs to monitor sound levels during the talk? If not, you will need to hire outside A/V help to maintain a professional appearance.
Next, consider the person you’d like to have speak. Is the speaker well-known enough to be perceived as trustworthy and knowledgeable by your audience? Does he or she have the knowledge about your specific product to be a good representative of your company? Keep in mind, if the topics your speaker chooses to discuss are not tied directly with your product, they may distract or even turn away potential customers. It is also a good idea to have a back-up plan if the speaker doesn’t connect with your audience, so you can quickly redirect your attendees. Otherwise you run the risk of losing them altogether.
Once you choose and book a speaker, you need to be sure you have an audience. Long before you set up your trade show booths, you will need to have materials prepared to market your speaker as an event. Sending out invitations for a private Q&A session, or another opportunity for one-on-one time with your speaker can help guarantee not only people in your booth, but engaged customers who want to interact and learn. Scheduling your speaker to be in your booth during peak traffic times can help pull in customers who want to have a more personal experience with your expert.
2. Costs Can Add Up Quickly
According to TSNN, successful trade show booths should give a good return on investment. Having a budget is crucial, and a speaker as part of your trade show can be a budget buster. Be sure you have reserved a large enough space for a crowd, as well as equipment including chairs, speakers, and soundboards, all of which will add to your costs. Then there is the speaker’s fee, this is how they earn a living and their time does not come cheap. Be sure you know exactly what the speaker’s fee covers, as extras may not be included. Lastly, factor in your pre-event marketing costs. Even the printing and mailing of simple post card announcements can add up quickly.


3. Keep The Overall Goal In Mind
What is the overall goal for your trade show booth design? This is the most important factor of all when considering a speaker. Is the cost of a guest speaker, marketing, space, and equipment going to guarantee an increase in real leads and sales? Will their presence be helpful or will it just add extra stress to you and your staff? If you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Trade show exhibit companies can help with planning and marketing no matter what your industry.

Have you had success hosting a speaker in your booth? Tell us what you’ve found to work best. We’d love to hear from you!

About the Author

Craig is the President of Skyline Displays of Houston. Since acquiring Skyline Displays of Houston in June, 2000, Craig has led the Company to become one of the leading full-service exhibit houses in Houston. The world-class 60,000 square foot facility was recently recognized as the top Skyline facility in the world, and Skyline Houston is now one of the top three Skyline Dealers globally. For more information on trade show displays, trade show booths, and trade show exhibits in Houston, please visit

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