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Booth Staffers: Listen To Attendees With Your Eyes

One of the key attributes of a great trade show booth staffer is that they listen more than they talk.  They listen to what booth visitors share about their hopes, dreams, and needs, and then tell their visitors only the part of their company’s story that is relevant.

And as the saying goes, you should listen twice as much as you talk, because you’ve got only one mouth and two ears.  What’s more, you’ve also got two eyes.  So your booth staffers can “listen” with their eyes even while they are speaking.

Say what?

Most communication about feelings and attitudes are communicated via body language such as facial expressions, according to a study by Professor Albert Mehrabian.   So you can “listen” to your booth visitors even while you are talking, by listening to the non-verbal “replies” they give to your words.  That way, you can tell if they are receptive to your presentation, or if you need to stop and ask more questions.

Let’s look at a several examples of facial expressions.  Consider if it would be good or bad if your booth visitors had these looks on their faces while you were talking to them in your trade show exhibit:

This woman looks fairly unemotional – whatever you are saying to her she appears to not be buying it, and that’s bad.  But perhaps she is just in information gathering mode, and has no emotions about it yet.  It would be a good time to ask her what is the biggest pain she has with her current solution, or what she really wants in her future solution.


Her expression is happier here – it’s good when a booth visitor is this receptive to what you are telling her about how your company can solve her problems.  When would this be bad to see?  If she gets this happy describing how well her current supplier is serving her needs!


Here she is looking skeptical about what you’re saying.  This is not good, unless you catch this look and successfully change direction.  At this point you need to go back a step and give her more proof about whatever claims you are making, like have her do a hands-on demo.


You may never have an attendee stick her tongue out at you, but you certainly will get attendees who have a similarly playful manner while they are talking to you.  This means they are relaxed and happy to be in your company.  People want to do business with people they like, which is a big reason they attend trade shows.  So take your time building a stronger relationship, knowing the sale will come later.


Here she looks like a mix between scared and surprised.  What did you just tell her?  Did you tell her your prices?  How long delivery will take?  That the version of your product she just bought has been made obsolete by the new product you’ve just launched at the show?  Whatever you said, she’s told you what she thinks about it without saying a word.  So you’d better reply to what her face said before you go any further.


Here she looks exasperated.  If you’ve been talking non-stop for the last 10 minutes and she shows you this look, then this is very, very bad for you.  But if she gives you this look while she describes her problems she came to the show to fix, AND you’ve got the perfect product to help her, then this is good.


If your booth visitor closes her eyes for longer than just a blink, she is not going to sleep standing up; she is visualizing how well the solution you proposed will work for her.  This is good.  Don’t break the spell; wait for her to open her eyes and respond to you.


And if you’ve listened to her needs, and shown you can solve them, and see your booth visitor looks like this, it’s not only good, it’s great!

Don’t be so excited to get your message across and sell your product that you prevent your booth visitor from telling you important info about their needs.  Take advantage of everything that a face-to-face interaction has to offer, including a good, two-way conversation in which you listen – with your ears and your eyes — more than you talk.

What's Working In Exhibiting White PaperAfter you’re done “listening” with your eyes, be sure to use them to read the What’s Working In Exhibiting white paper.  The report is full of effective strategies and tactics exhibitors are using today to boost their results and stretch their budgets.  Click here to request your free copy.

About the Author

Mike Thimmesch is the Principal at Thimmesch Marketing. For over 25 years, he has created and implemented innovative marketing, lead generation, and exhibiting strategies that profitably grow company sales and brand awareness. Mike rose to Director level at Skyline Exhibits, where he helped generate over a half million leads, resulting in over $1 billion in sales. He published 11 industry white papers and eight exhibiting books, presented over 100 trade show webinars, and wrote over 200 exhibit marketing blog posts.

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