For exhibit and event professionals  

Overcoming Short Attention Span of Attendees

April 24, 2018 By Caroline Meyers, Editor eConnections

Overcoming Short Attention Span of Attendees

Attracting — and keeping — the short attention span of attendees at a trade show can be challenging. Let’s face it, we all have short attention spans these days. It's not enough to simply capture someone's attention as they walk the aisles at a trade show, you have to keep it.  Here are a few things that might help.

Come to the Light

You’ve invested heavily in your exhibit display. Branding and messaging or spot on. But in the “bus station” lighting of a convention hall, even the most elegant exhibit can look flat and uninteresting.

Light makes a huge difference. So much so it’s worthwhile to reexamine the budget to see what could be realigned to allow for lighting in your booth. Gorgeous lighting design will wow attendees, but it doesn’t always have to be a big fancy rig to make your exhibit look like a million. LED task lights at demo stations provide attention-getting spotlighting. LED strip lights can gradually change color and edge lighting makes booth structures glow.

LED monitors deliver brand messages, but they can also provide color and movement to add life to your booth. Just remember how things look on a computer screen or even in a bright office are not indicative of how they will look at the venue itself.

Messaging from Top to Bottom

Attracting attendees to your exhibit starts way before the carpet line. Your brand needs to speak out across the hall, from the aisle, and at close range. For instance, large hanging banners that need to be seen from a distance have to have big, bold text and graphical elements.

Demo station graphics, on the other hand, are meant to be viewed at close range. Two-inch to 2.75-inch type is more than sufficient. But these graphics can also serve as a way-finder to your booth. Intriguing headlines will encourage visitors to walk up to see what it’s all about.

This visibility chart, courtesy of Optima Graphics, works as a handy guide for testing whether or not your trade show graphics will be seen clearly at various distances.

Engage the Senses

Once you have attracted a visitor’s attention, keep it by engaging as many of their senses as possible. Don’t just rely on sight – give them something tangible to engage with. We have five senses – sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Appeal to these basic human senses with the likes of coffee, mints, textures, handing and using your products, sound domes or directional speakers. The more senses are engaged the more memorable your message will be.

When you have their attention they’ll forget the other exhibitors and noise around them while they’re interacting with you.

The Human Element

Don’t just stop with capturing attention – aim to inspire and inform. Greet attendees with a friendly face. Listen. Ask relevant questions. Laugh with them. Once you do this, you’ll be sure to create the “you had to be there” experience we all crave so badly.

*The goldfish is a reference to a questionsable study claiming that our attention spans are shorter than that of a goldfish. A claim soundly debunked in this BBC report.


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