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Speech Opening an Annual Trade Show

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 9 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Trade Show Delegates Industry Conference

When you make a speech opening an annual trade show you are going to be walking a tightrope. Granted all the attendees will be there because they have a common interest, the industry that the trade show represents, but they will also therefore be in competition with each other.

Being Diplomatic Around Your Competitors

This is not a rare occurrence so delegates will be used to the extreme diplomacy. The best thing to do is to focus on the trade show itself and general comments about the state of the industry. Steer clear of any digs or praise for any companies or individuals who are prominent in the industry.

Depending on how the trade show is structured you may not have much of an audience. If people are still setting up their stands or waiting for the first seminar or lecture to begin then you might not be much of a draw. Work with the conference organisers to make sure the opening speech doesn't have any direct competition.

Introduction to a Trade Show Opener

Make sure you thank people for attending and welcome all the delegates to the trade show. Keep the introduction and the speech itself short and pithy.

Be aware that the speech may be reported by the press, depending on the size and importance of the trade show. Even if there aren't reporters there will almost certainly be a PR person who will be putting out press releases containing your words. So you need to be careful about what you say.

Example: Welcome everybody and I hope you will all enjoy the show. Our industry has had a lot to celebrate over the past year although I'm sure it hasn't been plain sailing for everyone (list a few major achievements or breakthroughs). Take a look at the conference agenda as I'm sure there'll be something of interest for everybody.

Sell the Show

The middle section of the speech is an opportunity to persuade delegates to spend as much time at the show and the various side attractions as possible. Trade shows have to be profitable even if some of the funding comes from subscription fees to the central trade body.

  • Give an overview of the highlights of the trade show
  • Compare key figures for the current show with previous years (if it’s a positive comparison)
  • Tell everyone about any awards or competitions associated with the trade show

Example: This show gets bigger every year and we're grateful to all the companies who have supported it. We have 30% more stands and the seminars have been extended to cover a third day. During the closing speeches on the final afternoon we'll be distributing the awards for last year so do stay behind to find out if you are a winner.

Closing the Opening Speech

Finish up by thanking the people who have worked hard to make the show possible. You'll be able to thank them for their work at the end of the trade show too but getting an acknowledgement in early will boost their morale.

After all, for them the hard work is just beginning!

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