SOURCE: By Butch Oglesby (Many of the suggestions in this article are
based on the book, “How To Get The Most Out of Trade Shows”, by Steve
Miller.) 31 Oct 2003
One of the many tasks of a furloughing missionary is to inform his or her stateside constituents about the work that God is doing where the missionary is serving. We do this not just to inform, but to encourage interest in and support for missions. Even those of us who serve in denominations that do not require us to raise our own support must encourage our supporters to pray for us and the people we are trying to reach. Naturally, we want them to become excited about missions and support our work financially, either directly or indirectly.
Speaking at churches and mission conferences is most often the venue for missionaries, and we are expected to have some sort of display and even dress in our national costume. Often these mission conferences take on the
feel of a trade fair. In fact they may best be thought of as missions fairs. In order to be as effective as we can possibly be it would be good for us to remember some simple and basic rules about one’s mission exhibit. Below a few suggestions and the dos and don’ts of manning your missionary display.
1. Make your display area open. People do not like to walk into a booth where they feel trapped. If you have a table, move it to the rear of the booth so the area feels open and inviting. Don’t be a border guard. That is, don’t stand in the way of your display.
2. Have as much interactivity as possible. If you have a laptop computer you can produce a continuous slide show in Power Point or other programs to encourage visitors to pause a few moments at your booth. People love to touch things; simple games from your country are always attention-getters.
3. Keep your exhibit area neat. People will move things and generally clutter your table. From time-to-time straighten up the clutter. If you have equipment or extra material you are not using at the moment, try to find an out-of-the-way place to store it where it is not visible.
4. Give something away: brochures, fact sheets, pencils, candy from your country; the list goes on. However, don’t give brochures to everyone. They are expensive, and research shows that 90% of them are thrown away before
the recipient reaches home. One researcher says that the average time spent reading a brochure is 1.3 seconds. So, be selective about giving away your slick, four-color brochures.
5. Don’t sit or read in your booth. This gives the impression you really don’t want to be bothered or that you are “off duty.” People will pass you by if you give them any reason to do so.
6. Don’t eat or drink at your booth. It is rude and messy; people are polite and will not bother you while you are eating.
7. Don’t chew gum or suck breath mints. It is not pleasant to talk to someone who has something in their mouth. If you feel you need a breath freshener, use a spray.
8. Don’t ignore those who wander into your booth. If you are busy with someone else, at least acknowledge the person or draw him or her into the conversation.
9. Don’t spend your time visiting with the other missionaries. You do not want to look too busy to spend time with a potential prayer warrior!
10. Wear your badge properly. It may seem more cool to wear it on your sleeve or waistband, but if you want people to read it, then it should be placed on your shirt or jacket wear it can be easily and quickly read.
These are only a few suggestions, but following them will help you stand out and be effective. After all, you want to give your people group the best representation possible.