Get the giggles: Adding humor to your booth

When used effectively and appropriately, humor can put people at ease, create instant rapport and even lead to a sale. In the tradeshow setting, humor can also serve to command the attention of attendees, draw them in to learn more about your business, encourage them to engage with booth staff and help them to remember a booth long after the tradeshow has ended.
There are many ways to remain professional while being humorous, and the best thing to keep in mind is that humor shouldn’t be forced. Just relax, smile, have fun with attendees and let it happen. Beyond this foundation, here are tips for bringing your best laughing game face to your next tradeshow.

  1. Know the rules
    It might go without saying, but telling an off-color joke stands to be more damaging to your tradeshow booth and business’s reputation than not saying anything at all. As a general rule, any joke that makes any particular group of people its butt is always off limits. Avoid telling jokes, sharing witticism or otherwise poking fun at ethnic groups, certain sexual orientations, religions, politics, and genders. Additionally, keep things professional by keeping them clean and out of the bathroom and the bedroom.
  2. Know your target audience
    Not all jokes are funny to all people—what would kill a millennial may go right over the head of a baby boomer and vice versa. What accountants find funny likely won’t resonate with elementary teachers. Keep in mind the demographics of the people attending and hosting the tradeshow before opening your mouth and tailor your lines to appeal to them accordingly.
  3. Be prepared
    Prior to a tradeshow, develop a few jokes or quips that could easily be worked into conversation. Bring whimsical props that double as giveaways, like Yo-yos or Giant Paperclips to help set a fun mood. If your booth includes a presentation, consider developing a few for when things go wrong, too—like the presentation software takes too long to load or the mic cuts out—to ease the awkwardness. It might sound silly, but that’s the point.
  4. Poke fun at the status quo
    After you’ve put some thought into who your target audience is, you can develop quips and jokes that are almost like inside jokes—things that only that audience can truly appreciate. Doing so shows that your booth staff and your business “get” them. Go an extra step by personalizing fun giveaways to the same audience, like selecting an appropriate kind of USB People or Goofy Pens.
  5. Create a character
    If your business’s brand hasn’t already, consider creating a fun or funny character to use in marketing materials or specific to your tradeshow presence. Choose a person or a mascot that makes sense—in a logical or hilariously illogical way (think: Aflac® Duck) and use this character at your booth to draw attention and supply smiles and giggles all around. Hand out items like T-shirts or mugs branded with a graphic of the character and your logo.
  6. Be confident in your delivery
    If you don’t think a joke is funny, neither will someone else. Knowing your target audience, preparing ahead of time and just being congenial and smiling will all prepare you for wit and hilarity when it feels right. If you do tell a joke that you’re convinced is hilarious but it falls flat, ignore it and keep talking. Awkward pauses only make awkward jokes…well, more awkward.

No one wants to be bombarded by cheesy jokes or yuck it up with an out-of-touch tradeshow booth staff that’s just trying too hard to be funny. Instead, take these tips to heart and lighten up. The funny will come if it’s supposed to and when it does, your booth is sure to be a hit.

 

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