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  • Writer's pictureEvents Team

The Dos And Don’ts Of Running A Successful Trade Show Presentation

Trade shows are a great way to bring businesses and customers from a particular industry together in one exhibition venue to present and look at what the future has in store. One of the best aspects of this is that the events are often so very different depending on the industry in question, and because of the bigger spotlight, have created some of the best and worst talking points for a particular sector. With that in mind, here are some of the dos and don’ts of running a successful presentation, with some of the most notable examples of both. Do Add Variety To Your Presentation People tend to learn and absorb information in different ways. Some people prefer to read, others would rather listen, some others would prefer to see a visual demonstration, others still prefer to feel or act, and some prefer a combination of all of the above. The key to a great presentation is that it should present in more than one way what a product or service can do, and one of the best examples of this is at the 1854 World’s Fair in New York. Elisha Otis invented the safety elevator, which was a lift that would automatically activate a breaking mechanism if the cables were cut, stopping the lift from falling down the shaft and saving lives. However, whilst he had told people about his invention, people did not really take much notice until he made a speech on top of a lift platform, during which time he asked an assistant to chop the rope holding the platform with him on it. To gasps from the crowd, the platform only fell a few inches before the automatic breaks activated and Mr Otis continued his speech. The safety lift is the basis of nearly every lift made since. Don’t Fail To Adequately Plan Your Demonstration Of course, adding a tangible demonstration to your presentation plan is incredible, when it goes well. When it does not, it can actively end a product before it even launches. Take the late Clive Sinclair’s launch of his battery-electric vehicle Sinclair C5 in January 1985 at Alexandra Palace in Haringey, London. It featured a range of demonstrations, presentations and even a Sinclair C5-themed game playing on the company’s own ZX Spectrum computer.

After the indoors segment, which went admirably well, the press and several guests (including racing driver Stirling Moss) were invited to drive the C5 on the roads around Alexandra Palace. The combination of a wet, cold winter’s day and the hilly roads of Alexandra Palace made this demonstration an incredibly costly mistake. Several of the machines broke immediately, and the others struggled to make it to 5mph and led to accusations it was a death trap. The presentation was the beginning of the end for Sinclair, and Sir Clive would soon sell his computer division to Amstrad. Do Know Your Audience One of the most important parts of any presentation is to know what your audience wants and try to offer them as close to that as possible. If that is not possible, then at least avoid presenting a product they veritably do not want. There are so many examples of this in trade show history, from the embarrassing Diablo Immortal mobile game presentation to the launch presentation of the Xbox One, which presented a product that the core target audience actively did not want. At least try to avoid insulting the audience, as Nokia failed to do during their N-Gage presentation, which featured a slide that said “It’s the games, stupid” and went down about as well as you could expect. Do Not Be Afraid To React To Other Presentations Events and situations can change between the final draft of a presentation and the moment of truth, and it is worth having the flexibility to adapt. In that regard, Sony Computer Entertainment has one of the best track records in that regard. In 1995, their presentation for the Sony Playstation came immediately after a huge presentation of the Sega Saturn, its biggest competitor, which had announced a surprise launch for $399 at the E3 show. At Sony’s presentation, they uttered just three digits to a standing ovation: “299.” Almost two decades later, Sony did it again with the launch of the Playstation 4, by hearing the feedback to the disastrous Xbox One launch presentation and countering every contentious point. Do Use Guest Speakers If you have a long presentation, having guest speakers, which can range from other departments, creative minds and even celebrities, can help to add variety and energy to your presentation.

One of the most interesting examples of this was the CD Projekt Red presentation at E3 2019, where Keanu Reeves walked out to provide a short speech after it was revealed his likeness would be in the game Cyberpunk 2077. His presence became the talking point, and his adlibbed response to a heckler calling the crowd breathtaking became the talk of the show. Do Not Use Guests Speakers Who Do Not Have Anything Positive To Say By contrast to Keanu Reeves’ prepared, conscientious and energised speech, comedian Jamie Kennedy’s presentation at Activision’s E3 2007 conference was the exact opposite. The first red flag was that Mr Kennedy presented whilst intoxicated, and then proceeded to insult the company he was presenting with bad jokes, mocking the industry and the audience and failing to elicit any reaction other than awkwardness.



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