Ideas for creating good displays
The purpose of this guide
On any LHE, at any show, there are a huge variety of displays and a wealth of knowledge that could fascinate the public for hours if they only stopped and talked to us, but the problem is that so often they don’t. Sometimes they walk straight past, sometimes they stop and look and then move on, and sometimes they ask stupid questions. It’s the golden moments when they stop and really engage with a display that make it all worthwhile though, so anything we can do to make this happen more often has got to be worth a go.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to pay attention to what it is about popular displays that makes them successful. The subject of a display and the kind of public we get at a show will make a difference, but if you think marketing and advertising, think what would make you walk into a shop or stop at a market stall, there has to be lessons we can learn.
I have put together a collection of photos of displays which all, for one reason or another, have something about them that I think helped to achieve this.
Public attract public so the longer we can keep them on the LHE, the busier and more interesting we look, and the more people will come in to see what’s going on.
I like these two photos because it’s clear to even the most hesitant members of the public that this is a display you can engage with.
Smiling, eye contact, announcing what you’re doing or asking the public if they’d like to have a look at xyz as they walk past all seem to help give them confidence to stop and talk.
A lot of public are shy, they don’t know what to say and aren’t sure of the etiquette so they keep moving. If you’re doing something that they can stand and watch for a bit, they sometimes build up the confidence to ask a question.
People like being able to have a go at things and for families with kids this will probably make their day.
If they can take what they’ve made home with them, even better.
Even if they can’t make something, having objects to feel and handle make for a more engaging display. It keeps them at your display longer too, thus attracting more public.
Sounds and smells
I think these really help to set the scene, make it feel real and help to lure people in.
The sounds of craftsmen at work, people chopping wood, playing music or chatting in character all add to the ambience.
Authentic smells - nice or nasty, both are effective.
By Stephanie Everest, 2014