Attendee Engagement

15 Ice-Breakers to Engage with the Trade Show Audience

Trade shows are all about human interactions. Check out this post where we list out 15 ice-breakers to start interacting with your trade show audience.

Human interaction plays a vital role on a trade show floor. After all, one of the reasons why businesses participate in trade shows is the one-on-one interaction opportunity that other channels fail to provide.  

But in this increasingly digital world where most conversations happen online, human interaction feels like an uphill task. However, your booth staff can help make the whole experience less uncomfortable for the trade show audience by initiating the conversation on the right note.

[READ: Complete Guide to Train Your Booth Staff for Maximum Engagement and Conversions]

15 Trade Show Conversation Starters

Here are 15 interactive conversation starters that can help-

1- What Brings you to This Event?

The question works well in helping your booth staff start a general conversation with the attendees. It can provide basic details about why a prospective customer is visiting the event. 

For example, maybe they’re looking for a new product/service or just accompanying someone. In either case, the information is vital for you.

2- Are you Looking for a Solution to any Particular Problems/Needs?

This is another great question to make the trade show visitors open up about their needs. More often than not, people are looking for ways to reduce costs or boost productivity. 

Once their needs are known, you can be creative with the pitch to let them know how your product/service can help.

3- Have you Ever Used “__________” Before?

You can ask visitors about their experience with similar products to highlight the USPs of what you offer and draw a comparison with your competitor.

If they’ve never used it in the past, you can lead them to your product demo. And if they have, you can skip the basic introduction and focus on the top features and benefits.

4- What Do You Do at Your Company?

Higher trade show engagement has a lot to do with building personal connections with visitors. Knowing more about the visitors, where they work, what they do, etc., can help in this regard.

It could also turn out that someone is a decision-maker at their company with complete authority to make the purchase. But, even if they’re not, it is still a great way to start a conversation at trade shows.

[READ: Audience Engagement at Trade Shows]

5- Are you Struggling With ________ ?

If the product or service is created to solve a particular problem, you can start the conversation by knowing more about the visitors’ experience with the issue.

Their answer can provide you the opportunity to show how your product can help with the problem and make their lives easier.

6- Is Your Current _________   Missing ___________ ?

Here’s another ice-breaker that can lead the conversation to your product. It can help you know about the product/service they’re currently using and the feature they wish it had.

For instance, it could be accounting software with no analytics and reporting features. You can highlight the missing feature available in your product/service and how it can help them. Even if you don't offer that feature, it can at least start a discussion.  

7- Do you Know About our Company and our Products?

Answers to this question will provide excellent insights into your presence and reputation in the marketplace.

Based on the answers, your staff can enlighten, enhance, or even correct the visitors if they're wrong about your brand.

8- Do You Know?

You can also use a question that challenges the trade show audience and, in the process, can make them consider what they stand to lose not doing business with you.

For instance, if you offer AI customer support chatbots, you could ask, "Do you know by how much you can reduce your annual customer support costs with the help of AI chatbots ?" You can grab their attention and make the product pitch by asking targeted questions and backing them with numbers. The key is to back your claims with sound numbers. 

9- How has the Event been So Far for You?

People generally find walking away from a direct question like this very challenging.

Rather than bombarding them with the sales pitch as soon as they arrive at your booth, spend some time having a real conversation and making them interested in your products.

10- Have you Played our Fun Trade Show Game?

Games like custom trade show trivia help achieve event objectives whether you’d like to improve brand awareness, collect and qualify leads, or boost sales.

If you’ve deployed one such game at your booth, you can use this conversation starter to encourage visitors to participate.

[READ: Why Interactive Trivia Games for Trade Shows?]

11- Would you Like to see our Product in Action?

Product demos are also an effective way to begin sales pitches, enabling you to talk about your product and its benefits.

Moreover, it allows trade show visitors to ask questions and engage with your business. Watching your product in action will help them understand how it fulfills their requirements.

12- Did you Sign-up for a Free <Giveaway>?

Giveaways are another excellent way to attract a crowd and make people stay at your booth longer.

Once they’re interested in signing up for the giveaway, you can use other questions from this list to start a conversation. But don’t forget to qualify the prospects as you don’t want to waste the giveaway on every type of trade show attendee.

[READ: 10 Awesome Giveaway Ideas for 2022]

13- Would you Like a Free Sample of our Product?

People love free samples. It is among the most common yet highly effective trade show conversation starters.

While handing out the sample, you can discuss the points that make your product better than the rest. For example, if you're promoting a service at the event, you can consider offering a free trial.

14- I Like your Shirt! Where Did you Get it From?

Compliments work like a charm in striking a conversation. By complimenting someone on their attire, you can break down the initial barrier and pave the path for a more detailed discussion.

But don't just go around throwing compliments at everyone you see. And certainly don't make them close-ended.

Use them only when you mean it. And follow up with an interesting question. Some examples-

  • I like your shirt, where did you get it from?
  • I like your shirt, what does that design mean?
  • I like your shirt, what does it say?

15- How About We Sit Down for a Minute?

Once the attendees are qualified, you can use this question to make the prospective buyers stay longer at your trade show booth.

It’ll also help save your booth staff’s time as they’ll only have detailed conversations with people who’re actually interested in what you offer.

Break the Ice and Have Fruitful Conversation with Event Attendees

Like businesses, people visit physical trade shows to be face-to-face with real people behind a brand. You cannot lose the opportunity just because people are not visiting the booth and initiating a conversation themselves.

Your booth staff is responsible for kicking off the conversations, and these ice-breakers will help them in this endeavor. While training your booth staff, make your team aware of these ice-breakers and how they should use them for the best results. 

If you’re looking for other ways to engage with the attendees, custom trade show trivia can also help. Check out our latest work to see how our custom quizzes are helping businesses with their trade show objectives.

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