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Staffing
Q.
I like to think that my booth-staff training sessions are packed with valuable information, but many people mentally tune out within the first five minutes. What can I do to ensure my staff stays engaged?

A.
The key to maintaining engagement is to ensure that the method of delivery is interesting or perhaps in some way unexpected, and that you share the spotlight with meeting participants. Here are a few tricks to get staffers involved in the presentation and keep employees engrossed in your content.
➤ Enlist co-presenters. Meeting participants are more likely to perk up and listen when someone other than the expected presenter takes the stage. Plus, simply sharing the stage creates a "we're in this together" vibe that's far more effective than a "you versus them" environment. So enlist participants to act out staffer-attendee interactions, demo lead-gathering software, provide engagement tips, etc. But always ask for participants' assistance prior to the meeting so they'll come fully prepared.
➤ Use props. Props (including everything from funny hats and magic wands to lead-gathering forms and boxes filled with mysterious items) can be used to create curiosity, drive home a point, and even role play with meeting participants. Used properly, a prop turns a ho-hum meeting into a lively message-delivery medium.
➤ Move around and ask questions. A moving target captures attention. So don't remain rooted in one spot as you deliver your content. Also, work in a few questions for participants, such as "What do you do when … ?" or perhaps "What's your best elevator speech about our product offerings?" Then don't only call on those that raise their hands to answer; rather, lure in tuned-out attendees by asking them questions. Or consider offering gift cards or cash to those that participate in earnest. Just keep in mind that your goal is never to embarrass people, so don't ask really difficult or trick questions.

These simple but effective strategies will help keep your audience engaged and perhaps even a little entertained. Plus, you might be surprised to learn just how involved participants will become when they share part of the spotlight – and the responsibility – for the meeting. E

— Matt Hill, president, The Hill Group, San Jose, CA
Help Wanted
Send your tough questions about exhibiting to Linda Armstrong, larmstrong@exhibitormagazine.com.

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