I’ve written several posts on how to manage a trade show booth. What to do, what to bring, and how to prepare. Here’s one example, Trade Show Marketing Checklist. I’ve shared Items not to forget at a trade show, and 10 ways to improve your trade show results. But I haven’t written about what not to do at a trade show booth.

Stop! Don’t do it.

Put the phones away

Seriously, this is going to be difficult because most folks are addicted to their phones. They can’t go five minutes without checking their devices and answering the ping. This behavior is counterproductive for working a trade show booth. Employees working the show must be mindful of their surroundings, open to helping prospects, and in the moment. This is a work environment, except for business and emergencies, phones should be silenced.

Stay focused on the prize

What’s the prize? Is it new customers and new orders from existing customers? Anything that diminishes interaction with show attendees takes focus away from the prize.

  • Don’t sit. Stand at the front of the booth, make eye contact, greet passersby, and answer questions.
  • Do NOT chat for hours with co-workers.
  • Don’t eat in the booth.
  • Don’t drink adult beverages. Even if they’re free at the Red Bull booth—wait until after hours.

Don’t be part of the unclean

Keep a tidy space. Keep all product information neat. Sweep the carpet, clean the tables, and don’t leave half empty boxes, suitcases, and litter on the floor. Store these out of site.

Don’t underdress

Your apparel will depend on the show, your product, and most importantly your target audience. If your target audience wears suits, then wear a suit. If your target audience wears jeans and T-shirts try wearing jeans and a logoed shirt or a branded T-shirt. Dress for success.

Never abandon ship

Don’t leave the booth empty Not. For. One. Minute. It’s not OK to hang a sign and leave. And if you’re all alone in the booth and nature calls ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your booth and staff your next show so you can leave.

It’s not OK to sit or stand and read

Leave your books at home.

There’s no excuse for bad breath

Avoid garlic and onions and always carry mints.

Don’t lose your name tag

Always wear your identification.

Don’t be that booth without giveaways

Offer swag, even if it’s candy or pens. Here are a few Promotional Products. 

Don’t think the display will do all the work

The best trade show display will not interact with prospects the way a human can. Talk to people.

Don’t allow resting grumpy face

I wouldn’t think I needed to tell you this, but I’ve been to too many shows where a smile was as rare as a four-leaf clover.

Don’t slouch

Or lean on the furniture, or cross your arms in disinterest.

What not to do at a Trade Show Booth 

Is there anything I’ve listed that wouldn’t make for a better show? You may disagree with me, for example putting away phones, but your argument is most likely for your personal preferences not the good of the show. Do yourself a favor, before your next show print a copy of this post and walk the show. Note how many of the don’ts you see. Then stand back and watch your trade show staff in action. You may learn something.