Have you ever wandered past a live theatre at a trade show and thought ‘Damn, we should be up there?” Or alternatively ”Thank goodness no-one asked me to be up there!” Whichever side of the public speaking spectrum you’re on, securing a slot on a live programme at a trade show can significantly boost the overall return from your investment in the event.


Sharing your company’s expertise through a live session can have a number of benefits including:

  • Building credibility as a thought leader in the industry
  • Educating your target audience about a key industry problem that you might be able to help solve
  • Creating content to talk about during pre-show marketing (social media, VIP invitations, press releases etc).
  • Adding value for the event organisers who may be able to offer additional support & being included in their pre-show marketing
  • Introducing your business to collaborators and stakeholders within your industry, as well as new potential customers
  • Being part of the conversation


We’re working on the content for a number of events currently including The FIT Show and The National Convenience Show and are constantly dealing with a number of different speakers all pitching for a space on the schedule. Here’s what appeals to us when we’re considering topics:

RELEVANCY – is the topic going to directly help the target audience to solve a problem or improve their business – for example, a pitch from a speaker on the new legislation on fire doors in domestic properties is unlikely to secure a slot at a pharmacy exhibition

CREDIBILITY – both of the speaker and the topic. We understand speakers use a session to demonstrate their expertise and attract a new audience – but if a pitch comes across as blatantly ‘salesy’ there’s no place for it on a stage – that’s what your stand is for! The audience should walk away with new knowledge, advice or insight from someone who is believable.

INNOVATION – if something is new, or a different perspective on an old problem it will always be interesting – again this isn’t about ‘selling’ the product / service, but about how it solves a common problem

ENTERTAINING/EDUTAINMENT – we constantly hear about the ‘festivalisation’ of trade shows and it’s true, lights, noise, smoke, smells and laughter will always draw a more engaged audience than speakers in corporate suits with 150 words per slide Powerpoint decks – if you can educate and entertain in your session you’ll be onto a winner

COLLABORATION – whilst we’re always looking for a range of opinions and voices on a panel debate, we’re not looking for a fight, that’s just awkward for everyone! Some might say it’s being courageous and edgy, often it comes across as egotistical and disrespectful. Panellists who can consider different opinions and debate the facts in a calm, considered way would always be our preference. As much as you try to balance a panel in the pre-show briefings, you never quite know what will happen and as theatre managers we have had to intervene in heated debates and it never reflects well on the panellist or their business.


Each show has a different method for sourcing their speaker lineup, some offer slots to exhibitors as part of their stand booking, some charge speakers for a session, some ask for papers to be submitted. If you’re interested in delivering a session at a theatre it’s always worth speaking with your sales manager early on in the booking process to understand the options.

Some shows manage their content production in-house, some out-source it to partners like ourselves but however they manage it, we’ve yet to work on a show where we have been inundated with speakers so they will usually always be pleased to hear from you if you’ve something relevant, inspiring and credible to say!

Keep in mind the tips above when you’re pitching your idea and think about how what you want to say adds value to the entire show and will help recruit new visitors. And think about how you bring it to life, through e.g. a customer case study or practical demo (especially if your product is quite technical). If your product is of a technical nature, think about who’s the best person to speak – it might not be the the technical manager, or a salesman, it might be someone from your customer service team if they have a more engaging delivery style.

Once you’ve agreed to presenting a session, keep your promise! Be really sure you have the resource to deliver a session as there’s nothing worse than creating a big hole in a plan that might already have been published in trade mags and show guides… especially when that slot could have gone to another worthy speaker!

If you are successful in securing a place, get prepared early, work on your story and make sure all your slides, video and any other kit is all organised well ahead of the day – theatre managers can have up to 20 different speakers during a day and juggling all their slide decks and USB sticks in a tiny broom cupboard back stage doesn’t guarantee you the best results!

That said, shout LOUD & PROUD about your session, invite journalists, customers, LinkedIn contacts, prospects – anyone who could add value to your business! This is your moment to shine as an expert in your industry and people will want to hear what you have to say so don’t leave it to chance that they’ll be walking by the theatre as you go live!

Oh and one final tip… if you are speaking, a cup of hot, strong coffee and a KitKat for the theatre manager and AV Tech is always very, very welcome when you arrive!

So if you’re feeling inspired to get out and have your voice heard but are unsure where to start, why not give us a call and see if we can help?

Or if your an Event Organiser who thinks we can help develop, produce and deliver your speaker content, we’d love to hear from you too!

Contact us now on: proextra@12th-man-soutions.co.uk or call Nichola on 07891 122542

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