Recruit theater teachers for events.

This is quite a success story: a tenured theater teacher leaves education and gets hired on an event team. Was it a fit? Yes it was. Teachers are used to dealing with children and helicopter parents which comes in handy in the events industry as some internal clients often act like children. This former teacher fought for and won her budget; teachers work with strained budgets and know how to make the most of what they have. This ex-theater teacher was also experienced at executing large productions with a clear vision and making it come to fruition with every details considered. Theater teachers’ skills are immediately transferable to the event world: they design their shows (creating a unique and compelling environment in a booth or room), casting (hiring), teach acting (training), hire and supervising an orchestra, lighting crew, sound team, and stage personnel (working with vendors and unions), and are used to working long hours. If you are looking for someone (new blood? Someone who thinks outside the box?) to join your events or trade show team, consider a theater teacher.

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CEMA Summit 2014

I just returned from the 2014 CEMA (Corporate Event Marketing Association) that was held north of San Diego in La Jolla at the Hilton Torrey Pines.

I had a great time. It left me energized. I saw people in the event industry that I only see once a year at the CEMA Summit. And it’s great to be the attendee!

The atmosphere at the Summit is one of camaraderie. No selling. No posturing. Just enjoying the people;, talking about the industry, each other, our interests and lots of storytelling.

I always laugh a lot at the CEMA Summit. These people are funny – especially after a glass of wine or two. In case you hadn’t noticed, most event professionals have engaging personalities and when they get to play attendee instead of being the producer of an event, they are big fun!

There are conference sessions at the CEMA Summit but most of them run unopposed and are open to all. The conference speakers are top-notch. They are marketers from the biggest and most successful companies, futurists with their eye on what will happen, technologists talking about the latest stuff that will help the event industry, psychobiologists who inform us as to why we do what we do, and generalists whose message is uplifting and motivating.

CEMA is a growing organization because of its high-level, strategic approach to marketing and, most importantly, its members. I have been a member for 12 years and it is the highlight of my year to re-connect, learn, and laugh with my fellow CEMA members. I encourage you to check out CEMA and reach out to Kim or Olga (below) for more information.

Kim Gishler

CEMA Executive Director

kim@cemaonline.com

(916) 740-3623

Olga Rosenbrook

CEMA Member Services Director

olga@cemaonline.com

(916) 408-3700

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Why you should attend the trade shows you plan

Whether you’re an independent event planner or a trade show manager for a company, here are 10 reasons why you should attend at least some of the trade shows you plan – especially the big ones.

  1. To ensure consistency in your client company’s overall trade show participation you need to be on-site to make sure what you expect to happen actually happens.
  2. For larger, more important shows, to ensure the success by being there to monitor labor, your vendors and your client’s own exhibit staff.
  3. To take care of any issues (and there are always issues) quickly and efficiently using the experience and expertise that you bring to your role and that would not be there if you were not there.
  4. You do not need to be at every show, especially all of the small table-tops and 10x10s but you should drop in on at least a few of those per year to make sure the trade show “kit” you send out is working the way you expect it to.
  5. Your ability to evaluate and improve your client’s entire trade show program is dependent upon you being on-site a fair amount of the time. No amount of phone calls, emails, or surveys from your client’s exhibit staffs and your trade show vendors are as unfiltered as you being there observing and evaluating so you can tweak the program to make it better.
  6. Relationships matter and being on-site will allow you to build even better relationships with your client’s own people (your exhibit staff), the on-site vendors, show management, other exhibitors and even some of the attendees.
  7. By being on-site and talking with other event and trade show managers, you can exchange ideas on best practices, obtain referrals for vendors, and discover new and effective exhibit designs, messaging, activities, etc.
  8. Being on-site will help ensure the best performance out of the exhibit staffs. You know that some of them slack off when no one from the office is in attendance. And the staff’s performance is the most important factor in the success of the shows. The exhibit staff doesn’t work for you, but you need their cooperation. Being on-site with them and working with them will help them understand their role and huge impact they can make.
  9. Managing your client’s trade shows is your job. To just hope that everything goes as planned means you almost have to entirely rely on other people who are on-site. And anyone who know anything about trade shows knows that anything can go wrong and knowing how to fix it, or work around it, or implement your Plan B or Plan C, can best be done by you when you’re on-site. To think that your client’s evaluation of your performance is going to be judged by the success of the trade shows and you don’t even get to be there is not fair and not reasonable.
  10. Wanting to be on-site for key trade shows and a few of the smaller ones is what I have seen to be standard practice from my hundreds of clients over the past 25 years. Most companies want the trade show manager to be on-site. Trade shows are the public face of your client and should be treated with the respect they deserve. That includes the person with the knowledge and experience to be there to make the your company is represented as best as possible. Build the expense for being on-site into your contracts.

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Trade Show Training #3: Managing Your Booth Visitors’ Expectations

Key Points
First, understand what a visitor might ask for from you that could potentially waste your time or get them frustrated.
Second, know how to manage these expectations. Especially how much time you can spend with them depending upon how busy it is.
Third, if you’re polite and reasonable, visitors will agree to just about anything.

Visitor’s expectations to manage include your:

Time

  1. Depending upon how busy the booth is, or how busy it will get, you may not be able to spend the amount of time with a visitor that they planned on. To manage their time expectation, you first need to find out what they want to hear about. Then estimate how long you can spend with them. Take into account:
  2. How big the opportunity is with this visitor (spend as much time with huge clients as needed).
  3. How busy the booth is.
  4. How long it will take to discuss their area of interest.
  5. Then say something like, “Let me take five or ten minutes and show you our new product.” That’s all it take to manage their time expectation. Then after five or ten minutes, it’s your choice whether to continue or not depending upon if the booth got busier or less busy.

One-on-one face-time

  1. If your conversation with a visitor started off as one-on-one conversation, they may think it will continue that way no matter what. If other visitors begin to wait for you to finish, you may want to invite them into your conversation (but not always). To do this politely, you need to ask permission of the visitor your currently talking with and tell them why you want to do this.

Accessibility

  1. The visitor may not get to speak with the person they’re asking for, or with the person who can answer their question. You choices are:
  2. To get a message to that person.
  3. If they’re at the show but not in the booth to call them right in front of the visitor and ask them if they can come over to the booth.
  4. Get them to someone else with the ability and/or expertise to speak with them.

Knowledge

  1. You may not be able to answer the visitor’s question or know enough about a particular product or service. Your choices are:
  2. To get the visitor to one of your colleagues who can help them.
  3. To commit to get back to them later (preferably while the show is still going on). If possible, get their mobile number.
  4. Authority
  5. You may not have the authority to grant a requested exception, make a decision, etc. If it’s appropriate, without putting your colleague (and maybe even your boss) on-the-spot, get them to someone in higher authority.

For more information on The Hill Group’s Trade Show Training, click here.
Eight Trade Show Training Tips
Be prepared: Know your role, know your demo
•     You represent the entire company to every visitor
•    Know what else were doing at the show; sponsorships, events, etc.
Be on time: Don’t be late and don’t wander off
•    It costs your company about $700 per hour for you to be in the booth. Honor your schedule, be on time, be in the booth for entire shift.
• If you need to leave the booth, let us know so we can cover for you
Be approachable: Don’t give any visitor any reason not to approach you
•    Don’t stand in circles and talk with your colleagues
•    No eating, drinking, talking on the phone, or reading. Visitors will not interrupt you.
Be ready::
• Your 30-second “elevator answer”
• Some qualifying questions
Manage your time: Be in control of how much time you spend with visitors
• When the booth is busy, have shorter conversations
Don’t make visitors wait:
• Acknowledge waiting visitors
• Add waiting visitors to your conversation
It’s okay to interrupt: There are no private conversations in the booth
• Interrupt politely and ask how long your colleague will be
• Ask permission to add a visitor to an on-going conversation
End the conversation: 3 ways to end a conversation
• Generate a lead
• Escort them to another part of the booth
• Dismiss them

For more information on The Hill Group’s Trade Show Training, click here.

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Trade Show Training #2: Booth Visitors’ Expectation

Key Points
1. Know what most visitors expect. Draw from your own experience as a trade show visitor.
2. Be ready to manage their expectations.

A lot of the visitors you’ll be working with are veteran trade show attendees and they will probably  have the following expectations when they enter your booth:

1. They’ll be able to talk to you for as long as they want to or until they run out of questions.
This should not be the case. You should decide how much time to spend with a visitor depending upon how busy is it, if the visitor is qualified, etc. When you decide how much time is going to be needed with a visitor, let them know. You can say something like, “Let me take five or six minutes and tell you all about our new product.”
2. Even if they have to wait, they’ll be able to have one-on-one conversations.
Not necessarily true or productive for you. If the booth gets busy, you should politely point this out to the visitor you’re speaking with and ask them if it’s okay to invite other waiting visitors into your conversation.
3. All of their questions will be answered completely. This may not be true if:
You don’t know the answer to the question.
You shouldn’t answer the question (like a question about future, unannounced products).
The answer might take too long based on how qualified the visitor is and how congested the booth is.
4. They’ll get a free T-shirt, water bottle, tool set, cap, etc. This may or may not be true depending upon:
If there is anything left to give away.
If the visitor needed to bring in something to redeem for the give away.
If they’re just a booth-beggar with no hope of ever becoming a customer. (If they argue with you, don’t make it a customer service issue, just give them the cheapest giveaway and move on to a more productive interaction.)
Or, if the visitor wants three items (because they have three children) you may want to hold off on giving more than one until the end of the show. Ask them to come back then.
5. They expect to walk up and receive an invitation to your company-sponsored invitation only party where the invitations were sent out weeks ago.
If this visitor is one you want at the party, you should have a few extra invitations around to save for these special high-quality visitors. Otherwise, you should politely explain the situation to a visitor you wish to deny an invitation to. Maybe finish by saying, “but it often happens that we have some cancellations, so if you’d like to check with us again, maybe the situation will have changed.”

For more information on The Hill Group’s Trade Show Training, click here.

Eight Trade Show Training Tips
Be prepared: Know your role, know your demo
• You represent the entire company to every visitor
• Know what else were doing at the show; sponsorships, events, etc.
Be on time: Don’t be late and don’t wander off
• It costs your company about $700 per hour for you to be in the booth. Honor your schedule, be on time, be in the booth for entire shift.
• If you need to leave the booth, let us know so we can cover for you
Be approachable: Don’t give any visitor any reason not to approach you
• Don’t stand in circles and talk with your colleagues
• No eating, drinking, talking on the phone, or reading. Visitors will not interrupt you.
Be ready::
• Your 30-second “elevator answer”
• Some qualifying questions
Manage your time: Be in control of how much time you spend with visitors
• When the booth is busy, have shorter conversations
Don’t make visitors wait:
• Acknowledge waiting visitors
• Add waiting visitors to your conversation
It’s okay to interrupt: There are no private conversations in the booth
• Interrupt politely and ask how long your colleague will be
• Ask permission to add a visitor to an on-going conversation
End the conversation: 3 ways to end a conversation
• Generate a lead
• Escort them to another part of the booth
• Dismiss them

For more information on The Hill Group’s Trade Show Training, click here.

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Handling the Emotional Unintelligent: The Dominator

Emotional Intelligence as defined by Daniel Goleman has five domains:
1. Knowing your emotions.
2. Managing your own emotions.
3. Motivating yourself.
4. Recognizing and understanding other people’s emotions.
5. Managing relationships, ie., managing the emotions of others.

Live events, parties, family gatherings, actually anywhere there are other people around offers opportunities to have a number of conversations. So let’s say you’re at a live event at the traditional first-evening networking social event. You end up next to someone in the bar line and begin chatting. And after you both get your drinks the conversation continues.

At least you thought this was going to be a conversation. But it’s turned into a monologue. They’re doing all of the talking and apparently without needing to take a breath. And you’re being nice; making eye contact, periodically nodding your head, etc. But you can’t get a word in. And what they’re talking about was marginally interesting for a minute or two, but not for five or ten or more. But they think you’re fascinated. They think you’re on your toes with anticipation of what they might say next. This is the first sign that this person in Emotional Unintelligent. This type of Emotionally Unintelligent conversationalist is known as The Dominator.

But you so desperately want to leave this conversation. So you step it up on notch non-verbally. You break direct eye contact and move your eyes to each side hoping to catch the eye of someone you know who might come and rescue you. And breaking eye contact should non-verbally communicate to this person that they don’t have your complete attention. But it doesn’t work. They’re oblivious. So you begin to tilt your head to one side instead of nodding as you try to communicate that you don’t understand or don’t agree with what they’re saying. Nothing. They are still somehow talking non-stop with no breathing breaks.

You next try the tried-and-true techniques of glancing at your watch. Nope. They keep talking. You then move next to the newer-generation technique of glancing at your cell phone (maybe that’s your watch too). But they still don’t get it. They forge ahead with their self-focused monologue. Yes, this person is definitely lacking some in the empathy and reading body language department. They are Dominating.

So you become even more bold. You deliberately interrupt them to offer some feedback or you interrupt them to change the subject. Now they’re shocked. They are taken aback by your interruption. They seem upset that you would dare try to participate. After all they are so self-absorbed that they can’t imagine any other topic to be of more interest to you. So they quickly answer your question or make a quick comment on your suggested topic but then they pick up their monologue right where they left off and you’re stuck again being dominated.

For this poor, dominated attendee, they think this will be their entire evening. And they see no way out. They don’t know what to do. If they’re polite, they really don’t want to just turn and walk away. And if they pride yourself on telling the truth, they don’t want to stoop to saying something like, “You’ll have to excuse me, I’ve got some powerful abdominal cramps right now and need to use the rest room.” That will work, but most people won’t try it (chickens!).

My advice: don’t try to change this person. Don’t try to point out that a conversation is an exchange of ideas, sentiments, observations, or opinions and not a monologue. This is not your job and chances are this person is doing the best they can being as emotionally unintelligent as they appear to be.

So what do you do? Be direct. Be honest. And take control away from this Dominator. Here’s what I do and it works. Because it’s so obvious that one of the goals of a networking event is to network, to mingle, to mix, it’s okay if you do that. I simply interrupt both non-verbally and verbally. I hold up my hand like a stop sign and then quickly drop it to shake their end, which is a universally accepted way of ending a conversation. Then I simultaneously say, “I want to go mingle around some more now, it’s been great listening to you (rather than “great talking with you”, it’s a little dig – I can’t help myself), enjoy the rest of the event.” Then I turn and leave.

Or I say this, it is a variation what I suggested earlier, “I need to interrupt you as I have to use the restroom.” If they follow you to the restroom (I’ve seen it happen), I hope you are of different genders. And I hope they don’t wait for you at the entrance to the restroom. If they do, use this tactic: “I am meeting my friend right now over there, it’s been great listening to you, enjoy the rest of the event.”

If you both go into the same restroom, only stay in the stall for a count of five. Then leave and move far away from your original conversation spot, head to another rest room, and/or get into another conversation ASAP.

The Emotionally Unintelligent Dominator cannot be dominated. Don’t try. But you can leave at any time. Do it non-verbally, verbally, and then walk somewhere else. It works.

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Some research about face-to-face communication at live events

Some research about face-to-face communication at live events
Why is that magical things happen at trade shows? Or at conferences, user group meetings, and live corporate events? Is it just passé that we who are older than 40 still like to see and talk to people in person? Are we just refusing to admit the inevitable; that some combination of email, webinars, texting, conference calls, video conferencing, and twitter are all we really need to do to meet people, establish relationships and do some business?

I don’t think we’re kidding ourselves about the value of looking someone in the eye when they’re standing three feet away from you, and talking with them. We in the face-to-face marketing and sales business may not be able to quantify it, but we intuitively know that face-to-to face interaction and communication is better. We may not be able to tell you exactly why this is the case, but there is some research to support our own feelings.

The following is from an article in the NY Times on April 5th, 2010 by Benedict Carey (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/health/06mind.html?ref=science): In a series of studies, psychologists have found that social bonding between conversation partners is highly dependent on a rhythmic and usually subconscious give and take of gestures and expressions that creates a kind of shared good will. “Part of that could be the buying in on the interaction itself,” Dr. Chartrand said.
And I have often cited the research done by Professor Albert Mehrabian at UCLA regarding how much is communicated face-to-face, with just your voice, and with just your words. Here’s what Professor Mehrabian found:
7% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in the words that are spoken.
38% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
55% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in facial expression.

And simplified:
7% of meaning in the words that are spoken.
38% of meaning is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
55% of meaning is in facial expression.

So this means that when you’re talking with someone live, face-to-face, you’ve got all the potential communication working for you. And 55% of what’s being communicated is non-verbal. This means trust, rapport, and getting to know the other person happens faster and actually happens at all.

If you’re on the phone you drop down to less than half of the potential communication: 45%. This means you have to be a lot more precise with what you say, as the person you’re talking to can’t see your facial expressions and body language.

And if you only have email or texting, only words, you’ve got about 7% working for you. Maybe 9% with some emoticons :). Precision is really key when it’s only words that are being communicated as some words have slightly different meanings to different people. And you sometimes have no idea what kind of mood or state-of-mind the other party is in and misinterpretations a lot more likely.

That’s why live events work. If you want people to have meaningful, human experiences, live events are it all happens in business. People still do business with people.

If you’re in a commodity business, where price and delivery are really the key differentiators, then personal relationships between the supplier and the buyer probably don’t matter much, if there’s a relationship at all. I don’t think anybody at OfficeMax knows me because I order office supplies through their website.

But if, like me, you’re in a business that requires some marketing and selling, then establishing relationships, rapport, and trust still count. In fact, they are required. No one is going to do business with a training company like mine without at least talking to someone over the phone. Or at least they shouldn’t. When your product is a service, it’s harder to sell and how well the service fits the client and well the service is delivered makes a huge difference.

The research backs up what most of us have already known: even though all the information about your company and its products and services are on your website, it’s just different when you’re standing face-to-face with someone saying the same thing. It’s personal and most people still like to do business with other people, not just with websites.

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