How to plan for oral presentations at tradeshows

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Woman at tradeshow booth
To be successful at your next tradeshow, make sure you know your product and practice your sales pitch
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Make your tradeshow speech a winner.

Going to a trade show is one of the highlights of most business trips. There are freebies galore, new people to meet and wonderful ideas at every turn. 

But having a booth at a trade show is another story. Suddenly you're the one responsible for ordering the giveaways, deciding what printed materials to bring and how to get people to stop and learn about your product. 

And most of all, you are now the one who must decide what to say to all those people. That's the key to making your booth a success. Where do you start? Here are some ideas to help you plan for oral presentation success at your next trade show.

Know Your Product

No matter how good your product or service may be, if you can't describe the benefits well you are not going to do well at a trade show. You need to know your product or service backwards, forwards and every way in between. Study the benefits and uses. Learn about the ways in which your product is different from other similar items. 


Be ready to answer questions about drawbacks, weaknesses, costs, repairs and redesigns. While you can't prepare for every possible question, too many "I don't knows" will drive people away from your booth no matter how good your product, image, handouts or trade show promotional products might be.

Practice Your Pitch

While you don't want it to sound flat and memorized, a well rehearsed sales pitch allows you to focus on the reactions of the people in the booth rather than on trying to come up with something to say under pressure.  Make sure you have two or three versions to keep it fresh. This will also help if you have different market segments.



When you plan for oral presentation content, make sure you've addressed the style, technological level and interests of your target audiences. Having one pitch for other salespeople, one for IT departments and one for CFO level visitors will allow you to customize the points to match each demographic.

Tie Your Giveaways to Your Oral Presentation

Try to select tradeshow promotional items that complement or enhance your oral presentation. This makes it easier to use the items as visual aids during the talk and will help prospects to remember what you said when they return home. The giveaway, especially a high daily visibility one like a mug or mouse pad, will act as a reminder of what you said about your company.

Be Ready to Change Horses in the Middle of the Race

If you get to the trade show and your speeches are falling on deaf ears, don't be afraid to change your message. If customers seem impatient with listening, start asking them questions about their needs and concerns and respond to those instead. 


Watch other more successful booths and see what they're doing to keep people's interest. If it's not about the product, see if you can incorporate some of their techniques into your pitch. Don't steal their jokes or copy methods verbatim - just make adjustments where needed.

Plan for Next Year

Make sure you take notes about what works and what does not, so you can make next year's trade show even better. Write down techniques, layouts, informational content, presentation styles and other things you observed working (and not working). Note which trade show giveaways were most popular. Make this year's trade show great, and plan ahead to make next year's even better. 

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