Does Your In-Booth Demo Make Sense?

“Sensemaking” is the process by which people give meaning to experience. This concept has made the rounds of Information Science for decades, and has been applied to various disciplines, most notably by Karl E. Weik who applied it to “Organizations.”  He defined sensemaking in organizations as a collaborative process of creating shared awareness and understanding out of different individuals’ perspectives and varied interests.

Mr. Weik went so far as to define seven different properties of sensemaking.  They include; Identity, Retrospection; How people frame their environment with dialogues and narratives; Its social nature; How it’s an ongoing process; How people extract cues from their interactions; and finally, how people favor plausibility above accuracy.

All very interesting. And of course, after exploring these properties, I applied them to my area of expertise … trade shows and event engagements.  Upon reflection, I was prompted to focus my gaze on a specific area … in-booth demos.

The in-booth demo, for me, can be one of the most powerful tools in an exhibitor’s arsenal.  It is perhaps the #1 way you can help your target audience make sense of not only your product or service, but of your brand message in general.

In-booth Demos must recognize and define the identity of these watching; they must be driven by compelling narratives and dialogues that create a social environment from which those watching may extract powerful cues, and how … and this is most important … audiences must regard the claims being made during a demo as plausible.

Of course, what I’ve just listed is often the opposite of what occurs in a trade show setting.  Product Managers are often tasked with making all of this happen without receiving the proper training or support.  Performing before an audience 10-14x per day was not in their job description; but no matter, the task of gathering, engaging, educating, and connecting attendees with reps is routinely thrust upon them.

This is why I urge anyone reading this, who controls their in-booth demos, to seek help when implementing them.  This could be in the form of a Facilitated Demo program, or by initiating Presentation Training to help your Product Manager(s) learn the skills they need to cut through the clutter on a show floor, and help their audiences “make sense” of the information they’re sharing.

When you do, everyone wins … your Product Managers present satisfying and successful demos, and your attendees have a meaningful experience that helps them make “sense” of your brand and message.

It’s the only sensible thing to do.