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Top Tips & Briefing for exhibit stand volunteers

Top Tips

  1. Arrive early and dressed appropriately. Check the stand. Make sure literature is in place and technology is working. Have enough people ready to talk to visitors.  Aim to create a comfortable space that people want to stop at.  Exhibitions are busy and tiring, so if your stand looks welcoming, you’re more likely to attract visitors and make those all-important introductions!
  2. Before the exhibition opens, find your way around so you can field visitors’ questions and make connections later. Check out whether any competitors, customers or potential partners have stands there for you to follow up in a quiet moment.
  3. Make yourself known at the press office and say that you are available for interview. Often the event organiser will create a video to use when promoting future exhibitions. This is an opportunity to get our brand in front of thousands more people.  If there is a magazine rack leave some issues of resilience with some of the business cards with contact details in it.
  1. Make sure that you are all briefed and aware of what is expected before the doors open. Make sure you are aware of key facts and messages about the society.   Decide on roles within the team. Identify the experts for specialist topics so that you can hand a visitor over to the most appropriate person for any specialist queries or if you don’t have the answer to the query then use it as an opportunity to promote the PWG’s or individuals within the society that may be able to help.  So “I don’t have the information with me at the moment but if you give me your contact details I will find out and come back to you or ask the person who would be able to help to contact you direct”.
  1. Don’t pounce on exhibition visitors as they walk near your stand. It isn’t natural and will put people off. Instead show that your stand is welcoming and open for business.  Make yourself available by making eye contact and smiling and let the customer get settled before you make your move.
  1. Be mindful of your body language.Make sure you smile and look out from the exhibition stand to make eye contact with individual visitors. Always walk up to a visitor from the front, never behind.
  1. Avoid huddles Two classic body language mistakes are huddling together with you colleagues in a cosy chat.  Conversations between those on the stand, result in visitors not wanting to interrupt or to break up the party.  Don’t’ position yourself at the entrance of the stand with your arms crossed across your chest.  Both make your stand feel unapproachable.
  1. Provide reasons for people to talk to you beyond having an appealing looking stand.

One of the best ways to encourage visitors to your exhibition stand is by making them feel like they’re missing out by walking straight past you. You can do this by hosting on-stand events that teach people something new. Ie talk, demonstration, case study

Hosting a talk or live demonstration will create a noticeable buzz that draws people in as they pass by.

Interactive games and activities are another more light-hearted way of generating attention and breaking the ice.  Having a laugh will put everyone at ease and can make your stand seem more exciting to passers-by.

The golden rule is to make sure that any ‘participation props’ support your message about how the society helps and why they should be part of it.

  1. Don’t ask closed questions like “Can I help you?” because visitors can respond with a simple “No“, and then walk away. Instead try to develop a more conversational approach with open questions:
    – “Hello, what brings you here today?”
    – “Hi, can I ask what you’ve seen today that’s got your interest?”
    – “Hello, how familiar are you with our organisation?”
    – “Hi, what are you looking for today”
    Even the British favourite topic of the weather can be a great gentle way to strike up a conversation.
    – “Hi, what’s the weather doing outside now?” swiftly followed by a question about their reasons for coming to the exhibition
  1. Don’t make assumptions about the people you meet. The young man that looks like a scruffy student may be a manager with a lot of buying power. The smart suited woman who looks so knowledgeable may in fact be an expert in something else and want to know the basics about what you offer. Ask questions to get people talking about their company, issues and needs. Listen very carefully to get the real picture and then paint a picture of how you see the society could link with what they do or how being a member could benefit their organisation or interest.
  2. Qualify the people you meet by asking questions to see whether they are likely to become involved.
    – “ Hi, I see you’re looking at our stand, would you like to hear a bit about what we do or is there something specific you’d like to know about as far as what we do?
    – “What are the main challenges your organisation has to deal with?”
  1. Talk about the benefits of what you offer,giving examples to provide ‘evidence’ rather than just stating the features. Try using the phrase “which means that” to turn features into benefits. For example: “We offer the complete package for our membership; learning, development, standards, networks, connections, opportunities, conferences, access to government lead projects, influence the direction of the resilience agenda of the future, CPD, and links with academic institutions.   Some employers include membership of the society as part of the job spec.  Speak about your own experience as a member along with some examples from the local branches as far as events they have held and topics and speaker. Tailor benefits and what you say to the individual. In other words, talk about what they have said matters to them.
  1. Speak to as many people as possible.Keep conversations brief when the exhibition gets busy. Find out if there is mutual ground for the future and then move on to the next person.
  1. Timewasters waste time.They just love to talk with no intention of taking any action. If you find yourself at the receiving end of a long conversation, firmly but politely cut it short. You may need to physically move away to show the conversation has ended.
    – “It has been great to talk to you today. I hope you get what you need from the exhibition.”
    – “It’s been lovely to meet you, now I must make myself available to answer other queries.”
    – “Thanks for taking the trouble to speak to me. Enjoy the rest of the exhibition.”
    Likewise, don’t keep people talking when they clearly want to leave. Be concise. Be gracious.
  1. Once you’ve talked to people, note down as much detail as you can as far as contact, interest, follow up.You can do this by collecting business cards and jotting down enquiries.  Try to categorise how likely you feel the prospective/lead is to become involved and any specific area of interest and next steps such as an urgent follow-up.  (link to template).
  1. Do have enough stocks of brochures and giveaways, and keep extra stock at hand, in a cabinet or behind your stand. Make sure everyone knows where stocks are kept so they can replenish them.  Make sure that anyone in a hurry can readily pick up a leaflet or brochure.  Ensure you have plenty business cards with the contact details of Head Office and hand these to each visitor.  Please note initial contact must be via head office and therefore these are the only contact details that should be provided.
  1. As well as the promotion you carried out before the exhibition and the follow-ups after, don’t forget to promote the event while you are there using social media and any hash tags available 
  1. Don’t eat or drink on the stand it’s unprofessional. You aren’t selling sandwiches so don’t display them!  Have a rota so you know when you can take a break. Several short breaks are better than one long one. Be prepared to be flexible depending on when visitors arrive.
  1. Standing and talking to visitors all day takes a lot of stamina and mental agility, so find ways to keep motivated and keep team spirits high. Visitors will walk past if you look exhausted but will approach you if you look friendly, energised and ready to help. The last visitor of the day may be worth more than all the others put together so stay focused.
  1. Provide potential lead information to head office for follow up. Send information with regard to business cards, email addresses contact details with as much information as you have as far as what each specific contact is interested in.  A template has been provided to record contact details and specific interests for follow up. 
  1. After the exhibition have a team debrief to identify good and bad points and record these for the future. link to template  Once competed please forward any points identified to the board via head office.

Stand equipment

  • Transportable display unit to provide background to the stand space available. One is currently stored at Society HQ in Yorkshire, one with William Read, West Midlands Branch, one held by the Scottish Branch and one with Tom Crellin, South Eastern Branch
  • Case for display unit that forms a lectern/podium
  • Display stand for Resilience magazine, and leaflets
  • (Pre-booked with exhibition organiser) table and 2 chairs

 

Literature, brochures and handouts 

Current and back issues of Resilience magazine

Variety of gifts with society logo and contact details

Membership leaflets outlining levels of membership

Information leaflet

Take your own clipboard, paper etc to make notes on contact details of visitors etc. 

 

Dress Code 

Appropriate business dress should be worn.

General points

  • It may sound obvious, but one of the most important things to remember is simply to listen and not bombard people with information they don’t care about. While you want to be the first to say ‘hello’, you also want to make sure you ask lots of questions before getting into “pitch mode”. Make an effort to listen carefully to visitors’ requirements and offer practical, useful advice in response.
  • Talk about the exhibition and your attendance on social media. The more people who know, the better the buzz and the busier the stand.
  • Although you’re more likely to want to meet new contacts, exhibitions are also great for re-connecting with old ones. Don’t forget to get in touch with colleagues– former, current and new – to let them know you’d like to catch up on the day.
  • Formulate open ended questions that cannot be answered with a simply yes or no.  Think of questions that use who, what, where, when and how vs questions that use are, can, do, have, or will.  Start off the conversation focusing on them, rather than the other way around.  Your opener should get them thinking, and regardless of what the answer is, it should draw them into a conversation about their needs, provide an opportunity for you to explain what you do, and determine whether you can help them.
  • It’s important, of course, not to get discouraged.  No matter how great your openers are, not every person that walks by will have a need to hear about the society.

Whilst not actually on the Society’s stand, volunteers can usefully undertake the following tasks whilst walking round the exhibition:-

  • Locate (if there is one) the literature/magazine display for delegates/the press, and leave a couple of issues of Resilience with the other material there.
  • Approach staff on stands that are offering a product/service that would be suitable for emergency planners and enquire if here is any interest in advertising in Resilience, or offering a presentation/training session to a branch meeting. Obtain contact details for the business/organisation, and forward to HQ for transmission to the appropriate branch to follow up.

Continued Professional Development (CPD)

The following CPD points are available.

1 CPD point per day of attending exhibition

If you attend any learning/speaker sessions during the conference there is a potential for increasing these points depending on level of learning and whether you can match these to the criteria outlined within the CPD. 

Key Messages

The society is a Membership organisation

The Emergency Planning Society is the professional body for resilience

We have developed resilience core competencies

and a CPD scheme.

Working with educational establishments to develop learning and development and qualifications

Working with government to consult and collaborate on strategic level projects

Working with colleagues to create strong networks to enable sharing of experience and knowledge, co-ordination co operation communication.

Different levels of membership from student to fellow

Organising conferences, studies, seminars workshops learning  opportunities including locally and nationally conferences seminar’s study days, workshops, eLearning.

We have branches in different areas across the UK and Ireland including an

International branch

Through regular consultation with the Government we provide a voice for our members to influence change at the highest level.

Our members come from all areas of the resilience profession and as a society we work hard to ensure their voices are heard.

We provide a forum through our extensive network of regional branches to share our experiences and disseminate good practice.

As a member you have the opportunity to be part of an international network of professionals that can provide support and give you a voice that is already acknowledged as one of the leaders in the field.

The Society welcomes members from all fields who are employed in, or have a particular interest in, the field of emergency planning and management.

Summary

  • Engage exhibition visitors – Talk to as many people face-to-face as possible – raise the profile of the society
  • Identify new opportunities and leads for new networks and relationships
  • Attract new members, and meet existing members visiting the event
  • Liaise with other professional organisations – identify new opportunities and ensure they are provided with appropriate contact details
  • Encourage advertising/sponsorship from organisations at the event.
  • Record details – Find out their needs and note them ready for follow-up
  • Everyone who visits your stand is a potential opportunity: nobody who visits the stand should be left unengaged.
  • Create the narrative (story) that helps visitors to identify the links or relevance the society would have to them and their organisation.

Additional information

  • The website hytner.com/people-skills has some useful hints for exhibition staff, although from a purely commercial perspective; there are other similar websites with useful advice, and, importantly, giving information about what not to do as a stand volunteer.

 

The Emergency Planning Society welcomes visitors to its stand, where you can learn about the Society and its work representing resilience professionals in the public, private and voluntary sectors. The Society has a network of regional branches and professional working groups where members can further their knowledge and expertise.