Putting a Human Face on Virtual Trade Shows

There is little that charms us more than a warm smile, and a strong, friendly handshake when we greet someone. Even more so when that someone is a customer, supplier or prospect at a trade show where the show floor is overflowing with smiles and handshakes. But how many of them are truly sincere? To stand out from the crowd, yours must be the most authentic.

But what about virtual events that are remote, and therefore remove the human element? How can you replicate that genuine grin through cyberspace?

Begin by ensuring that your face appears in all aspects of your virtual world participation. People like to know what you look like when they start communicating with you virtually. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to look like George Clooney or Penelope Cruz to take a good headshot! What counts is the way you convey your honesty, integrity and warmth. In fact, people who are too good-looking in photographs can often be a put-off to people. Studies have shown that people naturally trust other individuals who look average, and you feel you can relate to them.

Many times people use headshots that were taken years ago and if you met them in person, you’d hardly recognize them.  Rather than have a friend use a digital camera to take a quick snapshot, invest in a professional headshot, a business portrait using a photographer that knows how to bring out the best in you and knows your image must inspire confidence, but not be over-bearing.
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Prevent Virtual Event Nightmares: How Producers Prepare Speakers, Exhibitors & Attendees

nightmaresOn February 23rd I’m going to experience another first.  Dennis Shiao, Director of Marketing at InXpo, and I will be presenting together at the Virtual Edge Summit, to be held at the Santa Clara Convention Center, February 22-23, 2010.

Although I have been presenting my tradeshow training workshops for over 25 years, and I have presented virtually for many years, I have never before co-presented where one presenter is live at the conference, and the other is virtual. I’m going to be the virtual component for the session Prevent Virtual Event Nightmares: How Producers Prepare Speakers, Exhibitors and Attendees.”

The topic we’re covering is far larger than the time we have to cover it. However, the major challenge to overcome is making sure all players know what to do, and how to do what they need to do, in a virtual environment. Dennis will focus on the technology, or the hardware, and I will concentrate on the software, or the people skills.

The key ingredient for all players to engineer a successful event lies in the simple process of planning and preparation.  Easy enough, yet very few exhibitors really take time to truly understand what this means.  Participating in virtual events means not only knowing, and understanding the technology platform, it also means honing the necessary skills for successful results.

For a speaker this includes knowing the program objectives, audience needs, as well as delivering good solid information.  Speakers who have never participated in a virtual event could experience a rude awakening, if unprepared. Speaking into thin air is a far cry from presenting in front of a live audience.  The dynamics, the energy, and presentation style all come into play.

My recommendation for event organizers is to either do a superlative job of preparing the speaker (if they are not of “prima donna” status, and are coachable), or rather select a presenter with some virtual event experience.  So much of the success of an event hinges on the quality of the presentations, and the information shared.

As for the exhibitors, in addition to becoming familiar with the technology, they need to know what outcomes they want to achieve, set measurable goals and then plan their strategy accordingly.

Hope that many of you can attend the session and the show – it’s complimentary.

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Tradeshow Tip: 3 Ways to Have Virtual Events Work with Physical Events

With the rise of virtual events in the marketplace, many show organizers and meeting planners are wondering how they could work together with their current physical event.

Realize that virtual events are here to stay, and you should view them as a new and exciting tool in your arsenal, which allows you to bring people together to exchange information. The difference is simply that they are online rather than live.

In order to understand where they might fit into your existing events schedule, know there are three major ways that virtual events can work together with your physical events. They can:

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