Exhibition Guide: Body Language do’s and don’ts5 min read

With the exhibition industry starting to open up across the globe, you’re probably keen to get your team back on the trade show floor. Exhibitions are a great marketing tool to grow your business. Industry specific events attract a niche audience that have already invested an interest in your business and your offering. Why wouldn’t you want to go and meet them?

By exhibiting, you are giving your team the opportunity make connections, build relationships and generate leads. Choosing the right people to man your booth is key to having a successful show. After all, it is their job to sift out the qualifying leads from the time wasters. Choosing the wrong team could cost you ROI!  

Once you’ve nailed these first-time exhibitor tips and learnt everything there is to know about lead capture, you’re in a good position to start training your trade floor team. But where do you start?

Often, it’s not the people who are manning a booth but their behaviour that puts visitors off. Training your team to become more welcoming, open and friendly can only benefit your business. But, in a new world where hand shaking is a no-go, how are your team supposed to achieve this?

This simple guide from leading exhibition stand designers, Quadrant2Design, breaks down the do’s and don’ts of trade show booth body language. Get your team up to scratch before your next live event and whatever you do, don’t make any of these mistakes.

Do: Smile

A smile goes a long way on the trade show floor. You naturally appear to be friendlier and more welcoming. Studies have shown that smiling makes you feel better. So not only will attendees be more likely to approach you and talk business, but by smiling will help you stay positive after a long day on your feet. As a bonus, smiling is known to be contagious. Your visitors will feel better thanks to catching a smile from you.

Don’t: Cross your Arms

Crossed arms is one of the most common gestures you will see at an expo. You might not think there is anything wrong with it, but crossing your arms is the natural gesture of defensiveness. It signifies that you are feeling anxious, uneasy, shy or insecure – which is why attendees are less likely to visit your stand. Keep your arms open to show that you are a warm and welcoming exhibitor.

Do: Make eye contact

A study by Quantified Analytics shows you need to be making eye contact 60 – 70% of the time to create an emotional connection. Building relationships with your clients is one of the main reasons for exhibiting. Be careful though. Too much eye contact will make you seem hostile and rude whereas too little will make you seem insincere and unprepared. So make eye contact, but not too much.  

Don’t: Sit down

You’re on your feet all day. It’s more than tempting to sit down on the comfy rental armchairs or prop yourself against your counter. Don’t do it. The only way to show that you are open to interaction is to stand and communicate with passers-by. By sitting or slumping you are creating a block between you and other people. They won’t approach you or visit your stand to get more information. If you feel like you need a break then take one, just don’t do it on your stand. 

Do: Mirror their Body Language

Body mirroring has been proven to enhance personal connections.  You’ll have witnessed it in social situations before, most obviously when yawning or smiling. Usually mirroring occurs when we subconsciously copy body language cues as a non-verbal way to show our similarities. But you can consciously mirror a delegate’s body language. This will help you to establish a relationship, build trust and close deals.  

Don’t: Eat

Trade shows are long, busy days. After a morning of product demonstrations and sales pitches you’ll be hungry. Often you’ll struggle to get a table in the cafeteria at peak time. This is not an excuse for eating at your booth. Visitors won’t approach an exhibitor that is eating, and is unlikely to loop back around to catch you when you’ve finished. It is better to leave your booth unmanned with plenty of literature, or take extra staff to cover breaks. 

Do: Approach delegates

Sitting around and waiting for delegates to approach you is a waste of time. They have very little information about your business to go off. That’s why you need to be assertive when it comes to approaching them and starting up a conversation. Letting attendees walk aimless past your stand without saying hello is just letting potential customers get away. Introduce yourself, introduce your business and give them a reason to want to interact with you.

Don’t: Ambush them

With that being said, it’s important that you know your boundaries. If someone isn’t interested in your product or service then it is their responsibility to let you know. It then becomes your responsibility to let them leave. The same goes for delegates who are just browsing. They may want to see who else is exhibiting before they choose who to spend their time talking to. Ambushing attendees, whether on your stand or in the aisle, will leave you empty handed on the lead front.

Summing things up

The difficult thing about all of this is that body language is often a subconscious decision. Even with the right intentions, you could end up sending the wrong message using your body language. By following the advice in this guide, you can guarantee that you’ll be making a good first impression, generating more leads and closing deals.

About the author

Natalka is an exhibition blogger for Quadrant2Design who uses her industry expertise to teach business owners the benefits of the trade show floor. She has developed a unique insight into the world of exhibiting, having spent time working alongside exhibitors, event organizers and exhibition stand contractors.