Human attention is the official currency of the trade show floor. It’s as if the gaze of attendees is the only legal tender — without it, your trade show investment is fruitless. This attention-driven environment results in exhibitors who will do anything to catch people’s eye, regardless of how bold or overambitious they appear. But often times, these efforts for attention are counterproductive and come off as polarizing or incongruent.

An effective exhibit doesn’t need to be over-the-top or grandiose. If you want to attract and connect with attendees, there are plenty of subtle, personable ways to do so. These five small gestures will give your booth visitors a breath of fresh air and lead to strong relationships into the future.

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Tell Your Story

Every single attendee has been listening to elevator pitches all day long. Switch up your approach by avoiding the one-liners and tell your company’s story instead. This alleviates your visitors from being antagonized yet again by pitches, while also giving them the opportunity to learn about your company and the reason for its existence.

Human beings are storytellers — this is one of the few characteristics that separates us from every other animal on the planet. People have connected with each other through stories for centuries and this natural inclination still exists inside of us. Tap into this desire by relating the inspiration and story behind the creation of your brand. This gives attendees a vivid glimpse of the people, the struggles, and the pivotal events that lead to the realization of your company’s success.

Let Them Breathe

Your booth staff should be experienced enough to notice the social cues and body language that signify that the attendee needs space. Not all attendees will be outgoing and enthusiastic, especially after a long day of exploring the expo floor. It’s vital for your staff to pinpoint the attendees who need some fresh air, and to avoid exasperating them in with marketing cliches. By the end of the day, many attendees will be one elevator pitch away from fleeing your booth.

Is the attendee keeping their distance or turning their back slightly? Are they avoiding eye contact with your staff? If so, they might be curious about your company but feel uneasy about chatting with your staff. Let these attendees breathe. Allow them to approach on their own time.

Build Comfort

Be sure your booth staff has the skills necessary for effective face-to-face communication. Your staffers are doing so much more than “selling” — they are connecting with your customers and solidifying relationships. Your exhibit space is most likely the most intimate opportunity your company will have to connect, sell, and get feedback from your clients. Take full advantage of this by hiring staff with expertise and experience in the territory.

You can also build comfort by creating a separate area near your booth where your staff can sit and chat with leads. This space should put the client at ease, feeling like an escape from the chaos of the trade show. Once you shift the prospect into this relaxing setting, your staff can more easily converse with the attendee in a normal, less robotic way. A talented booth staffer has the ability to let each interaction flow naturally, while guiding it in the direction of your company’s goals.

Don’t Overdo It

Trying too hard to attract attention to your booth might overwhelm or repel certain attendees from interacting with your staff at all. It’s great to attract eyes in your direction, but if you’re doing so in a way that feels like a gimmick, attendees will hesitate to trust your integrity. Of course, it’s always important to be unique and compelling, but your efforts should feel natural and congruent to your brand’s overall image.

Rather than building an over-the-top, contrived exhibit design, try something more intimate. Your booth doesn’t need to be complicated in order to maximize your return. Rather, focus on creating a space that is in alignment to your company’s vision, allowing attendees to fully believe in your brand, products, and staffers.

Give Away Value

Your booth visitors do not need more keychains or ballpoint pens. Rather than handing out the same unimaginative clutter that every exhibitor offers, try offering your attendees something that is unique to your brand, your founders, and your industry.

Every trade shows attracts a very unique audience depending on the industry, location, and time of year. Tap into this demographic by researching the statistics from previous years and deciding on promotional items that these attendees will find useful. “Useful” is the key word — if you give visitors an item they’ll be able to use six months from now, they’ll appreciate the gift and your logo will float around their house for months to come.