Etiquette 101 for Conference Exhibitors

Dos and don’ts to help you make a great first impression

Every day we are thrown into situations where we are judged solely on what we say and how we act. Conference exhibits are no exception. You will be judged on the exhibitor floor by the way you offer information and, equally if not more importantly, by the non-verbal messages you communicate through body language. Here are some basic guidelines for good exhibiting etiquette.

  1. DO remember the breath mints - Talking all day dries out your mouth, leaving you with bad breath. Have a drink of water and toss in a breath mint after each discussion with a prospect. This will help keep people focused on your presentation, not your breath.
  2. DO introduce yourself and shake hands - When people enter your booth and ask a question about a product you have on display, the natural tendency is to immediately launch into your sales pitch…but don’t do it. Instead, introduce yourself, welcome, and ask the visitor for his or her name. Then turn your attention to the question. Making a personal connection with the visitor sets the stage for a more in-depth qualifying conversation.
  3. DON’T eat in the booth - Yes, we’ve all been reminded of this gospel time and again but amazingly, a high percentage of booth staffers succumb to hunger. Human nature is such that we’d rather not interrupt people while they are eating. Most prospects will walk away rather than disturb an exhibitor at mealtime.
  4. DO stand tall - Just like eating on the job, if you sit down in your booth, people will think you’re taking a break and will walk past your exhibit. If you find it difficult to stand for a long period of time, sitting on stools in your booth is totally acceptable in my books. But if you’re going to use stools, make sure that the booth staff is coached on maintaining an open body posture.
  5. DON’T tell jokes - It’s fine to incorporate humour into an anecdote you’re sharing with a visitor to your booth, but skip the jokes. Conference attendees come from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, and you’re bound to offend someone. Keep the conversation focused on determining your visitor’s needs and matching those to your company’s offerings.
  6. DO deliver on your promises - The quickest way to end a budding relationship with a qualified visitor is to fail to deliver something you agreed to provide, such as a product sample or pricing information. Offer only what you know you can deliver, and then do it promptly.


Etiquette simply means manners. Minding your manners and using common sense on the tradeshow floor will help to make every encounter more pleasant and productive.

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