By Robyn Davis, Trade Show Strategy Specialist

Trade Show MistakeStatistics say that 85% of an exhibitor’s success lies in the performance of its staff. Knowing this, you might think that, because it’s important for your booth staff to do their very best, any “training” you can provide to them would be better than no training.

Unfortunately, in my experience, this isn’t true.

It’s kind of like that old saying: “practice makes perfect” – that’s a catchy phrase, but it isn’t really true, right? The more accurate saying is “perfect practice makes perfect” because, if you’re practicing the wrong things in the wrong way, you won’t improve (and you certainly won’t become “perfect”). The same thing is true for trade shows.

At many companies, trade show training means two things:

1.  Logistics (which shirt to wear each day, what time to arrive in the booth, etc.) and (2) “be a good booth staffer” reminders (no cell phones in the booth, don’t chew gum in the booth, etc.). While this information is important for staff to know, in my experience, calling it “training” (and allowing it to be the only trade show “training” your team receives) often does more harm than good.

At many companies, professionals are overwhelmed with work, unnecessary meetings are the norm, and trade show preparations don’t get the respect or attention they deserve. Which means, if your booth staff training doesn’t add real value, your team may tune out or skip it all together; then, moving forward, you will have an even more difficult time securing their support (for your future trade shows and your other projects, too) because you’ve already wasted their time once.

So, what can you do?

First, call it what it is (or, in this case, is not): logistics and reminders are not training. In order to help your team members do their very best, they need real, strategic trade show training.

Next, teach relevant strategies during your future trainings and pick up the pace. It’s okay to mention those logistics and reminders briefly, but the majority of your time together should be focused on the strategic actions that will have the biggest impact on your results and any other “bonus” topics that can help those who are ready to take their performance to the next level.

Remember: your booth staff training is one of the first trade show experiences your team will have together. It’s your responsibility to make it a good one and to set the (productive and goal-oriented) tone for the rest of your time/work together.

Learn More

Trade Show Strategy Specialist Robyn Davis will be hosting a free, 30-minute webinar called “What’s Missing from Your Strategic Booth Staff Training Sessions?” Thursday, July 6 at 1:30 p.m. ET and you’re invited! For more information and registration, visit