By William "Bernie" Bernhard, AEM Technical and Safety Services Manager

Safe DemosDemonstrations are a uniquely powerful tool utilized by exhibitors at trade shows to help showcase their product offerings to both new and current customers.

Not only are they an effective way to educate customers and heighten their awareness of safety, but demonstrations also showcase best practices and guidelines that everyone needs to follow when using machines, tools and technology on the job. 

An engrained safety culture both attracts customers and protects booth staff while on the show floor. It's critical for any customer demonstration and exhibit space, as opinions often can be formed about a company based on how its equipment is displayed. In addition, proactive and effective approaches to safety management will help reduce the risk of worker/customer injuries. 

With these facts in mind, here's how to set up a safe and effective equipment demonstration: 

  • Have the appropriate machine(s) for your demonstration area(s)
  • Prep these machine(s) to work efficiently and productively within the demonstration area(s)
  • Safely transport of the machine(s) to the site
  • Set up the demonstration so that it can be repeated easily and safely
  • Set up the layout of the machinery on the demonstration and exhibit site
  • Employ properly trained operators to demonstrate the machines, and make sure they are capable of delivering intended messages to the customers that need and want the products

In addition, some additional customer demonstration best practices and guidelines to consider are:

  • Plan, plan, plan prior to the show
  • Organize the show team (sales, marketing, product managers, trained operators, trained service personnel, show site managers)
  • Organize and schedule pre-show meetings to discuss and finalize plans
  • Establish a budget, get it approved, and cover all relevant and known costs, including safety features
  • Construct a message to be delivered to customers
  • Incorporate safety into sales and product messages
  • Recognize everyone on the team is responsible for safety
  • Emphasize the safety of the machine as its most important product feature to sell
  • Read the operators manuals for each machine on display
  • Set up a display and demonstrations with safety precautions communicated and reviewed by qualified product safety personnel
  • Set up all safety barriers and organize the flow of customers to, within and out of the demonstration area
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to all demonstrators and customers to wear in the demonstrations
  • Repeatedly rehearse demonstrations
  • Once the show begins, conduct daily team meetings to review safety plans and discuss any changes needed based on previous demonstrations
  • Be sure to tear down the exhibit and ship equipment back with safety front-of-mind 

It's critically important to ensure demonstrations are about more than showcasing equipment. They are about taking safety seriously, as safety is both good for business and the entire industry as a whole. And always remember, the customer is always watching (and listening), so make sure to communicate the idea that "safety first" is a win for everyone. 

For questions regarding safety standards, please contact AEM's Bernie Bernhard at wbernhard@aem.org or by calling 414-298-4106.

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