CES is an exciting time of the year for the tech world, with companies large and small attending to showcase their latest and greatest innovations. If you’re new to CES, you’ll want to focus on making it a valuable experience for your company. To set yourself up for success, here are a few fundamentals to keep in mind.
1. Plan & Execute
Do your homework and make a plan — having a detailed action plan will work to your advantage. Know ahead of time where you’re going, who you’re going to meet, and how you’re going to make the most of your time. Start with 10 or 20 people you want to connect with, and do some research on what they’re writing and tweeting about, so that you can better position yourself and your company. Make a list of anything and everything you need to bring or do, and keep items organized hierarchically by priority level. This includes everything from business cards and one sheets to press events and meetings.
Keep your planning documents in whatever format is most convenient for you and your team. Some people like to use Google docs, Slack, or even hard copy printouts. My team prefers to use Trello for its painless collaboration features and seamless mobile syncing.
2. Know Your Story
A well-crafted story is absolutely essential to a successful CES. Yes, cutting-edge innovations and groundbreaking technologies are worthy of celebration — but the truth is, nobody will really care how awesome your product is if you can’t communicate it successfully. This is even more critical at CES, where journalists are drowning in an ocean of new products and being pitched left and right. Plus, everyone is busy around the clock trying to squeeze everything in.
Thus, you need to make sure you have a strong hook that sets you apart from the crowd. Boil down a no-nonsense version of your story to 10 seconds or less. If you must spend longer than that demonstrating the value of your product, your story needs work. And remember: people will want to know what’s different about you; what unique problem are you solving? Be sure to address that in your pitch.
Do not, under any circumstances, start with the long version. Nobody will want to hear your life’s story. Focus on the most relevant, critical bullet points — a few sentences will always make a better impact than a giant wall of text. If the journalist wants more information from you, he or she will ask.
3. Stay Healthy
This one may sound a little obvious, but if you’ve never been to CES or a major trade show before it’s a worthwhile reminder. The simple fact is that you need to feel and look your best to put your best foot forward as the face of your company. You’ll likely be very busy with a packed schedule, so be sure to stay hydrated and carry a few snacks with you so you don’t pass out from low blood sugar. Food options can be variable in Vegas, so if you have allergies or dietary restrictions it definitely helps to plan ahead. If you’re anticipating long stretches on the show floor or anywhere indoors, bring a sweater — they tend to blast to A/C in the desert. And definitely don’t choose CES to break in a new pair of shoes — you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
In addition to being busy, you’ll also be meeting — and shaking hands with — a lot of people. Bring a travel-sized hand sanitizer, take lots of Emergen-C and wash your hands often. The last thing you need is to get sick while juggling important meetings and business opportunities. If you have an hour or two of downtime and no other priorities, head back to your hotel for a power nap and some reset time.