Having spent much of last week at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam, the m62 team was blown away by the exhibitions. These were not your average conference stands consisting of a table, some posters, and maybe a screen in the background. These exhibitions were huge. They had walls, second floors, built-in bars, and more technology than an Apple store. Some were set up like mini movie theatres. Some felt like a futuristic London bar that should be serving experimental cocktails. And some were clearly just a techie’s idea of heaven.
But something really stuck out to us while we were walking around. There were hundreds of thousands of pounds (we know of one exhibitor who spent £1.5 million!) being spent on stand space, equipment, and technology. These stands were really, really cool. And every stand had at least one huge plasma screen playing corporate videos. But on many of these top-of-the-range screens were bog-standard bullet-pointed PowerPoint slides.
We were genuinely amazed that anyone could spend so much money on, and so long preparing for, exhibitions at this huge convention, and then neglect something as important as the actual visuals they used to gain people’s interest.
Because there tends to be very little actual presenting going on at conventions and tradeshows, presentation software isn’t used in the same way. PowerPoint is instead used to play continuous looping videos – and when these videos contain slides of bullet points, they fail to inspire.
Of course, slides used without a presenter or narration have to make sense on their own, as there is no presenter to explain them. But that does not mean that they should contain lots of text, or that the same amount of focus doesn’t need to be given to them. In fact, it is even more important that these slides are engaging and attractive enough to get the attention of passersby, as there is no presenter to engage them. Yet so many exhibitors fail to recognise these issues.
So our advice to those exhibiting at conventions would be: think about every aspect of your stand. Don’t spend a fortune on a huge space, and then ask someone in-house to mock up some slides at the last minute. It’s just a waste of all the time, effort, and money that has gone into your exhibition.
So how should exhibitors approach convention presentations?
If you’re using PowerPoint at an exhibition, use it well. Set up a well-designed, looping video with animation that draws the attention of visitors, and ensure that the content itself attracts attention too. Don’t rely on bullet points of the features of your product to explain what you do. Use (minimal) text to ask high-impact questions that will get viewers sufficiently interested in your company to ask you about it.
The investment in your presentation compared to the investment spent on the entire stand is surely a no-brainer. Don’t waste the money you have spent. Dedicate a little bit more time to thinking about the visuals you use, and you’ll find you have a far greater impact.
Producing effective visuals is staggeringly cost effective compared to the price of setting up a full stand (particularly one with multiple floors!). It can be these visuals that really people’s attention, and get them interested in your content – which is the first step towards starting a conversation.
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