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The Four Rules of Engagement: How to Create Trade Show Communication That Works

You’re a company that needs to communicate your messages to an audience. These messages are key to achieving your business goals and increasing profitability. So how do you ensure that your audience listens to your story? Take a lesson from the movies!

Theater is about telling stories. If you have doubts, look at the big films of 2010! The King’s Speech, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right and most of the rest built their success around stories that were entertaining and engaging. Sure, other movies threw money at computer The 4 Rules of Trade Show Presentationsgraphics and special effects instead; sometimes it worked, but most of the time it didn’t.

At Fratelli Bologna, we use the power of theater to tell your story. Whether it’s a trade show presentation, a sales meeting, executive presentation or a training event, we have four steadfast rules to engage an audience:

1. Capture your audience’s attention right away … and hold onto it.
Many of our founders trained in theater communications and even worked  as San Francisco street performers.  We know how to attract an audience. We know how to tell a story. We know what it takes to keep an audience engaged.

2. Build your story around “what’s in it for them.”
What a company says is not important. What an audience hears is. That’s why typical corporate marketing messaging won’t work — it’s based on what the company wants, not what the audience wants. We are masters at taking the audience’s point of view and building your story around them.

3. Be real. The audience can tell when you’re not.
When someone builds their marketing messages by stacking cliché on top of cliché, you stop listening. Audiences respond to reality, honesty, authenticity.

4. Turn passive listeners into active participants.
Monologs are okay. Dialogs are better. Involving the audience in the story in an engaging way is great theater. When the audience is involved in a presentation, they create a strong foundation on which to build your business messaging. Telling them that 1 + 1 = 2 isn’t as good as showing them 1 + 1 and letting them help build the answer of 2. That way they own the answer; they’re part of the story, not just onlookers.

We know these rules of engagement. We’ve demonstrated proven results to companies like HP, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Global Business Network and Ernst & Young.

We can make them work for you.

Contact us at william-at-fratellibologna.com

About: william:
William Hall is an actor, trainer and improviser living in San Francisco, CA. He works with companies to engage and involve audiences at Trade Shows, Conferences and Training Sessions. He is a founder of BATS Improv and the author of The Playbook: Improv Games for Performers.

Reader Feedback

4 Responses to “The Four Rules of Engagement: How to Create Trade Show Communication That Works”

  1. Great points – especially #1. You only have about 3 to 5 seconds to grab the attendee’s attention, so make it count. Have a stunning trade show booth, enthusiastic and outgoing staff, and activities (games, presentations)to keep them interested. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I totally agree with these points. We are story tellers and our audience must have a stake in the outcome of the story. The next question for tradeshow presenters is “Whom do we serve?” Is it the business, the audience, our own egos? or??…

  3. Nice article William, and I agree with your points. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Gary Jesch says:

    Hi William, Good article and the LinkedIn post is bringing out a bunch of good comments too.

    I remember a few years ago, you, Barbara and I did a live animation display at a SAP conference for a client. You and Barbara showed up very well prepared with a great story, and it was a series of mighty fine performances, I thought. The videos showed it to be compelling. However, the overall results were lacking.

    The lesson I learned was that you can do everything right, and still sometimes a bad booth location or competing events in a conference will kill you.

    Over the years, I’ve seen too many times where show organizers leave attendees with little or no time to make it to the booths. The attendees would want to give your their attention if they could, but they don’t have time. Their bad planning can damage your overall results and undermine the effectiveness of the booth.

    It’s like show management wants a few booths and exhibitors, to add some interest and to supplement their bottom line, but they can fail to provide a daily agenda that lets exhibitors make contact with the people who are paying good money to attend.

    I’m just saying …

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