Study Hall

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Surviving The Trade Show Experience

Being surrounded by thousands of like-minded people and new toys from all over the world can be awesome... or miserable.

Going to trade shows generally provokes mixed feelings.

There’s a certain degree of excitement, since we are mostly kids at heart, especially when faced with acres of new toys to play with.

Trade shows offer an amazing opportunity to physically touch new products and see if they are as awesome as the advertisers proclaimed.

The other side of the trade show experience would probably be the opposite of excitement. That means that after going to a few, we know what to expect. Allow me to elaborate on the trade show experience…

Plan to do a lot of walking

Without fail, that thing you need to see at 10 am is going to be 27 miles away from the thing you want to do at 11 am. Sure, there are probably shuttles. They should knock about eight minutes off your expedition.

And the crowds always seem to be doing one of two things: Either everyone wants to see the same thing and thousands of people surround you, moving like a distracted glacier, or everyone is going the exact opposite way.

You are either part of the herd or risk being trampled by the herd.

Pick comfortable shoes and prepare yourself for the slow moving mosh pit that you will spend hours of each day working through. Then anticipate repeated encounters with the same folks over and over and over.

Watch out for aliens

Not literal aliens, as far as I know. I am referring to those people who act like they have never encountered crowds, noise, carpet, lighting, coffee, guitars, other humans, and occasionally… deodorant.

They notoriously wander down the center of congested areas or just stand there. Usually, they have their mouth open and a blank stare. Everything appears to be fascinating and confusing. They seem to exist for slowing down traffic, like rubberneckers on the interstate admiring a crash scene.

To some of these aliens, “demo” translates into “performance.” It’s not enough to hold that new guitar, they must play every riff that has every passed through the old gray matter upstairs. Drawing crowds encourages them to continue… and further blocks traffic.

Another alien encounter at trade shows involves those who are completely oblivious to life forms around them. The ones who decide to hold a company meeting at the top of an escalator, swap swag and notes in front of exit doors, join in with dozens of others to just “peek” into a session while discussing anything other than the topic on schedule.

Expect that your session on the “molecular structure of microphone ribbons” will likely be interspersed with occasional laughter and stories about events leading up to a wicked hangover.

Other alien encounters resemble turning hillbilly kids loose in a McDonald’s play fort. Signs? Rules? Safety? Hahahahahaha…

Bring along your happy face and brush up on your people skills. Trade shows can be a lot of fun, mostly if you’re not responsible for anything important. Wandering aimlessly through crowds resembling Black Friday mobs with psychedelic drugs in their system is always entertaining.

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