Picture this: You’re trapped in a large, stuffy convention center, aimlessly strolling up and down rows and rows of vendors’ booths. Suddenly, you’re bombarded by exhibitors chatting you up, while sneakily attempting to shove business cards, pamphlets and maybe some free swag (T-shirts seem to be the standard) into your hands.

The question I ask you is: How much do you actually remember about the companies that shook your hand or greeted you (albeit a bit too enthusiastically)?

Most of the time, probably not much.

Don’t get me wrong. Trade shows can be a great outlet to generate some buzz about your business, especially if you have the capital to invest in a killer booth setup and plan a few really cool giveaways. But for some of those smaller companies out there with even smaller budgets, there simply isn’t enough money to create a big splash amid all the noise on the trade show floor.

So, what can you do to get noticed at the next big industry show?

Think bigger than a booth and aim for a speaking session on the main stage. Below are three reasons why you should consider speaking at a trade show.

  1. Let the whole world know you’re at the event.
    Well, not really the whole world, but you know what I mean. At trade shows, it’s hard to stick out and make it known to all the attendees that you are exhibiting. Because the floor is chock full of booths that all start to look alike after a while, you need something that will give you that extra edge, and a speaking session can do just that. There aren’t nearly as many presenters as there are exhibitors at trade shows, so if you’re able to score a speaking session, you’ve already got a leg up on the competition. Not only will you be listed in the event’s agenda, but there’s a good chance you’ll get some promo from the conference itself. After all, organizers want the sessions to be jam-packed, too.
  1. Sell your company, without selling your product.
    No one hates bad advertising more than me – especially those “selfless” promotions that tell you how great product X is and why product Y sucks. While speaking sessions are typically vendor neutral, they present organizations with an amazing opportunity to showcase their smarts. When someone truly believes what you’re saying, you’re one step closer to gaining their trust – and their sale.
  1. Save (some) money.
    Sponsoring or exhibiting at trade shows can be expensive (think anywhere upward of $50,000 for the booth alone). Most of the time, securing a speaking session at a top industry conference is free. All it costs is the time you spend putting together a stellar call for speakers abstract and the slides and narrative for your talk. Be thorough in your research, though, and make sure you read the fine print – there are some conferences out there that do require some sort of sponsorship.

Want to know how you can generate some awesome media attention at your next big conference? Download our trade show PR checklist.