No matter how well the signs are placed, no matter how many maps and schedules given out, no matter how well-marked the rooms are, every event will have attendees asking questions. Some of these inquiries may be simple — like the restroom locations — others, complicated — requests to meet with a speaker privately — but every single answer will reflect on the event and your staff as a whole.
For too many of us used to being bombarded with salesy questions at every big-box electronics store, vehicle lot or restaurant, staff and attendee interaction is perceived to be a painful experience. For one, the staff member doesn’t want to bother an attendee lost in thought, but too often we see confused attendees wandering around, wondering aloud how to find what they’re looking for.
This disconnect must be solved, but helping without annoying isn’t easy, and it must be initiated from your staff in order to work. We rely on three things to help make this process a little bit easier.
We’re not talking eye contact when face to face with attendees, your staff should already know that. The kind of eye contact we’re referring to here is from across the room, over a table, or at the registration desk. Staff members should be looking up and scanning the room in search of troubled expressions, make eye contact with those people, and work their way over to help.
Locking eyes is a quick and easy way to determine if someone needs help; if they don’t, they’ll look or walk away. Careful not to give them a death stare.
Open Body Language
Whether it’s due to long days, little sleep, the chaos of any large event or simply laziness, we see far too many staffers talking with attendees while their arms are crossed, their eyes dart off into the crowd or their bodies turned at least partially away. While the need to keep an eye on the room is understandable, too much necessary body language is being wasted or misinterpreted when staffers don’t give attendees their full attention.
We’ve also found that staffers giving undivided attention to attendees (this shouldn’t take all that long, maybe 30 seconds) tend to answer their questions better because they’re listening more intently.
May I Help You versus What Can I Help You With
The first statement above is passive; it’s asking permission. The second is active; it’s moved beyond asking permission toward the actual problem faced.
Event staffers aren’t retail employees, they’re not there to sell stuff. Remember to instruct staffers to solve attendee problems first, worry about asking permission to do so later.
Solve attendee problems first. Ask permission to do so later.