How to Prepare for Your First Convention

Hello everyone!

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SkyCon is done and gone! Though it was so great, and we had the time of our lives, it is also good to finally be able to relax, reflect, and recover.

For those who don’t know what SkyCon is, it is a gaming convention held in the Kitchener-Waterloo region of Ontario. It focuses on table-top gaming (ie, cards, board games, minis, etc. More information can be found at www.skycongames.com). After the success of this year, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this becomes an annual event.

We felt like SkyCon was a great opportunity to debut Genesis, and we were right. It was a hectic weekend with very little sleep, but we showed the game to over 30 people, got feedback from 20 or so people, and sold a significant number of copies. It was a great experience. There were a few things we did really well and other things we could have done better, and I want to share those with you.

Practice, Practice, Practice.

I cannot stress this enough, you will never be practiced enough with your pitch. You just need to start doing it. So when it comes to your elevator pitch or teaching the game, you should start doing it with real people as soon as possible. That is something I am grateful for. I had a lot of opportunities leading up to the convention where I practiced teaching the game over, and over, and over, and over again. However, everyone else who came with me was not as fortunate.

What I would recommend you start with is showing your game to family and friends. When you do, ask them what you did well and what you can improve on. The important thing is to make sure the first time you pitch your game or teach the rules isn’t in front of customers.

Also, something I didn’t think would be so hard was to wrap things up. What I mean is, after you’ve demo’d your game, what do you do now? It always felt awkward. I hope whatever we plan for next convention is a bit more streamlined.

You can never be over prepared!

No matter how ready you think you are, you aren’t ready - especially if this is your first convention. Be ready to make mistakes and for things to feel awkward. That’s okay.

However, for the months/weeks/days leading up to your first convention, try to find a good project management tool. Trello was one of the greatest things I had at my disposal. There were so many little things that would have slipped through the cracks if I didn’t have it. You can use any project management tool you want, but I recommend you have something. A few examples of things that could have easily slipped past us were:

  • Do you have a way for people to pay by credit or debit card?

  • Do you have change for people who pay by cash?

  • Do you have something as a giveaway?

  • Do you have enough business cards?

  • Do you have your banner/advertisement?

One major thing that did slip past us was the temperature of the convention hall. When you have a booth, you need to be there all the time. So if it gets cold or hot at the booth, you need to manage that. Also, we didn’t practice with our debit machine enough and it started failing at random moments. These mistakes happen, you just need to improvise, make note about them, and make sure for the next event you are more prepared.

Sleep and Eat Well

With all of the excitement about a convention and stress about setting up, it is very easy to neglect eating or sleeping. This is a bad idea. Last thing you want to do is yawn while teaching someone the game or completely phase out when it’s your turn. (Sorry, Ken!) You only get one chance to make that first impression, and your audience will feed off of your energy and personality. If you’re bored or tired, they will notice that too. So sleep as well as you can.

Also, I found it hard to get healthy food at a convention hall. So if you can, bring a salad or some fruit, that would be great. Whatever brings you healthy energy is key. Also, bring lots of water!

Those are all my tips for you. If you are going to vendor at your first convention, I wish you the best of luck and I hope this helps.

If you’ve vendored at a convention before, what did you learn? Any tips you would share to a first time vendor? Or if you haven’t been a vendor, what questions do you have? Please leave a comment below.

Until next time!

~ Assad