It’s almost time for Biofach, the leading trade fair for organic food. Whether you’re exhibiting here or at another trade or consumer fair, have you thought about how to prepare for foreign visitors to your stand? I’ve attended a good few of these events myself and observed how exhibitors and visitors communicate at the stands. Here are my top tips for great conversations.
1. Practise your opening line
If you only do one thing: craft a statement in plain English that describes what your company does. Keep it short – just a couple of sentences – and don’t use any jargon or jokes. If you’re not sure it’s clear enough, get someone to check it.
Once you’ve come up with the perfect introduction to your company, practice saying it over and over again, slowly and confidently. These shows are usually very busy and noisy, so if you can introduce yourself clearly and succinctly, it’s more likely that people will listen to you.
2. Be prepared for questions
If visitors are interested in your introduction, they’ll probably start asking questions.
What ingredients do you use?
Where do you source them?
What processes do you use?
A few days before the fair, note down – in English – the questions people are likely to ask you, then prepare answers. Nobody expects a lot of technical details, but you must be able to talk about the main features of your products in English.
I once went to a fair in Germany where an exhibitor insisted on speaking English to me. We had started out speaking German, but he wanted to practise his English once I told him I was from the UK. But when I asked what ingredients he used in his delicious-looking drinks, he couldn’t tell me.
Don’t let that happen – who knows what business you could be losing out on! You don’t want to be desperately trying to remember the English word for Dinkel or Sanddorn* or Googling it on your phone when you could be making a sale or concluding a business deal.
Look up the words, prepare your answers and practise before the event, in front of a mirror. Record yourself and listen. Does it sound clear? If not, keep practising.
3. Use signs at your stand
If you really want to make your international visitors feel welcome, prepare a few small signs to display at your stand. Something as simple as English spoken here or Se habla español could make you stand out from the crowd. You could even go a step further and display a sign with your statement from point 1) above, so that visitors already know what you do before they start talking to you.
4. Use lists
Depending on where you want to export to, you could also prepare a list of key ingredients and features in other languages to help your visitors understand your business even better.
5. Write user-friendly social media content
Are you planning to post in English on social media before or during the event?
I hope these tips are helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to email me!
*incidentally, they’re spelt and sea buckthorn in English