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During events, there is a great deal of consideration that needs to be given towards the end-user experience. What your delegate or attendee is going to see and do at your event is at the forefront of this.

Exhibitions generally speak for themselves and, aside from ensuring there are enough stands to fill the space occupied at an exhibition, exhibitors go out of their way to ensure that their stand designs are bright, eye-catching and attractive. And everyone showcasing their brands on the day or during the course of the exhibition will be equipped with a well-rehearsed script to frame their product or service offering to each visitor.

Over the course of my career, I’ve attended many business events and conferences but fewer exhibitions. This year, I have attended more exhibitions and have noted now, on more than one occasion, that some of the content around exhibitions especially is substantially lacking.

Perhaps this has come to be an acceptable standard; however, after attending the speaker and panel sessions during two of what were some remarkable large-scale exhibitions, I feel I need to highlight how odd it seems to only have these pokey spaces dedicated to speaking sessions. The first was in a tent at the back of the exhibition hall and the other in a jam-packed gallery. The panel sessions at both had insufficient stages and seating.

This argument is twofold. Firstly, some of the speakers at these events are very high level – ministers, captains of industry and major decision-makers – so having a proper stage with seating would have done far more justice to their presence. Secondly, there is no need to have speakers totally separate and discrete from the rest of the exhibition. This is a literal talking point and, in my humble opinion, hyping up this particular element would enhance exhibitions in particular.

The confex model perhaps needs to be looked at more closely in this regard because having high-level speakers at your event feel as if they are an afterthought must be avoided at all costs. These VIPs are also your potential stakeholders so it is important to make sure that they are well looked after.

If the focus is on the exhibitors at an event and you are also making provisions for speakers, start applying yourself towards your set-up and how the two elements are individually strengthened while complementing each other without detracting from either.

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