This one’s for anyone who presents at a convention, trade show, lifestyle show or community event:

Get out from behind the table and interact with your guests.

As Mike Sansone explains in his post, Get Out from Behind the Counter, over at Converstations, there is a subliminal ‘us versus them’ mentality when there’s a barrier between you and your client/visitor/potential customer.

Get out from behind that barrier.  If you’re standing in front of a display or you’re on the customer’s side of the information table, you’ve removed the barrier and become a friend.

But my personal philosophy is even more extreme:  get rid of the barrier.  At the 2007 NFDA Convention, I saw a lot of people sitting behind tables.  These were the same vendors who complained to me that they weren’t having a very good show.  It’s because the floorplan of their display looked like this:


By putting the table at the very edge of your defined space (subconsciously, visitors to your booth know that the side barriers indicate the imaginary property line at the front of the space) you tell folks who might visit that they have to stay in the aisle to talk to you. 

This encourages them to continue walking (that’s what you do in a walkway) and only glancing over to browse what you’re selling. 

Here’s a better version, which still allows you to put product or literature near the entrance but doesn’t block your space:


As an added bonus, this version creates a welcoming environment and gives you a place to greet your guests.  I set up our cot cover booth this way and stood at the entrance and stepped back into the space when chatting with a potential client.

This gives your visitors the feeling that they’ve entered your personal space, which subliminally signals that they need to act like a guest and engage in conversation while being polite.  It also means they can’t just walk away without excusing themselves.

If you’ve got a super-exciting product and an engaging personality, this next one is the best setup:


Of course, the best setup in the world can’t overcome a bad product or poor salesmanship.  It’s up to you to be interesting and upbeat. 

Go against the grain.  People expect funeral professionals to be boring, moody or somber; you should be exciting and interesting and fun.