Your booth is too white

That’s not a racial assertion, but an aesthetic one. At General Assembly, some booths in the exhibit hall were visually attractive and others were bland, and it was largely a function of the use of color. But there are some steps to make a booth more interesting.

Let’s consider how exhibit halls are set up. These are usually barn-like facilities with concrete floors and neutral-colored walls and ceilings. The carpeting is an added cost, which explains why some of the larger areas were uncarpeted. The space is subdivided by a “pipe and drape” system. The tables are draped. The carpet and “drapes” are chosen from a limited color pallet, with a decided bias to dark blue, white and gray. Having a uniform color scheme — this year: dark blue carpet and booth drapes; white on the tables — simplifies exhibit administration and probably controls cost. So I don’t expect that to change.

Booth layout, decor and purpose shape the look. Of course, a booth serving as a boutique for colorful clothing will be more visually attractive than a row of tables piled with printed reports, but that’s little comfort if it’s your report that needs to get distributed. This is what I would do.

Assuming there are not hoards expected, but rather you’re hoping to interest by-standers, do place the tables along the back of the booth, or along either side, but not parallel to the aisle like Lucy’s psychiatric help stall in Peanuts; it literally keeps people out and necessarily focuses the eye to the paper. The next idea will be less popular. Have one and preferably two agents standing in the booth. The posture of standing (wheelchair users excepted) is a signal of attention for those passing by. Two? One to engage bypassers and another to assist those already attracted.

Colorful, printed cards might be the best handout: something that advertises the program and, if appropriate, shares a link where interested persons can download the resources, saving money, paper and the effort of hauling print pieces. Modern Postcard and Vistaprint are two good, affordable printers I’ve have first-hand experience of.  If you want to collect info, be sure to provide a clipboard and have plenty of pens at hand. Not as sexy as QR codes or using some a computer or tablet or what-have-you but very cheap and unlikely to fail.

Props help make a booth attractive, though I think video is over-rated for exhibit halls (unless your project is nothing but video). The clip played needs to be short enough to interest a passing person to stay put — a hard sell — and be large enough to be seen, which rules out most laptops. I’d not bring a TV or larger monitor either. When you add an electrical plug, a wired Internet connection or both, you might well double the cost of your exhibit. (Assuming they’re available; they weren’t years ago, if I correctly recall.) That doesn’t bear up as good value, but you might have reasons to disagree.

Better to use a banner, I think. Not the kind congregations carry at the General Assembly opening ceremony, but rather one that has grommets or loops at the top, can be made rigid at the top with the insertion of a dowel or pipe just below that, and has drape weights at the bottom. Use “S”-hooks to hang it by the grommets or loops from the pipe that frames the booth. If a table is set against the back of the booth, and an undraped table is an option, a matching tablecloth is a good option, too. Consider the basic colors of this banner and tablecloth as contrasting with dark blue, gray and white unless you can change it each year and learn what the default colors are before GA. The “Standing on the Side of Love” gold would be ideal, but might be best avoided to give your program a distinctive look.

I have other ideas, but I’ll share those with those I work with. Your thoughts?

General Assembly 2011 shout-out!


I will almost certainly go to General Assembly in Charlotte, N.C. this year: the site of the first GA I attended (1993) and the first one I will have attended since Boston in 2003.

I’m not in a pastorate and I have no vote. Most of the sessions leave me cold. Then why go? To see friends, of course, but that’s not the most important reason. General Assmebly is as much about informal business as the set agenda. I hope to meet people about my new church start and other matters.

Will you be there?

Once I find a room and get a flight — oh, and Hubby might be able to join me; he went to college nearby — I’ll start making (and taking ?) appointments.

General Assembly is where . . . ?

The current financial crisis is going to make General Assembly travel difficult for many Unitarian Universalists this year, but I looked into going. After all, the rail trip from the East to Salt Lake City is among the loveliest in the world.

But the more I read about heavy out-of-state Mormon financing of the anti-gay California Proposition 8, the less willing I am to go to Utah. And now that I’ve read this, I’m not willing to spend one cent there. Not one red cent.

Reducing plastic: Banners at General Assembly

I’ve been thinking about how to reduce my plastic use, if for no other reason than it doesn’t biodegrade in a lifetime. (Crumbling isn’t the same.)

Because the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly is coming up, I have to wonder again about the Banner Parade — a major feature of the opening plenary session — and the poles made of PVC pipe that banner carriers use in the parade.

Because they’re cheap but unwieldy, I’ve been guilty of bringing a pole set and discarding it almost immediately, which is a waste. But PVC isn’t a great product, and besides the pole sets dip and yaw unless they’re glued (like plumbing) ahead of time.

I wrote about it two years ago, but have neither the need to come up with a solution — but thanks to Dan Harper for chiming in — or the engineering chops to makes something, I let it go. Does anyone have an idea now, if not for this GA then next? (And do I recall a suggestion that the banner parade might go “virtual”? Not a good idea, methinks.)

As for the banners themselves, I have an opinion there, too. Mainly that the best ones are graphic and easy to read from a distance. Past, but still useful, posts here and here.

Later. Oh, this is post #2400.