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The Pros & Cons of Combining General Sessions and Exhibit Halls

Pros and cons written on screen with 2 images on a red and green background

Organizations are always looking for ways to drive traffic and engage attendees throughout their event space including the Exhibit Hall. Bringing together two of the most important content areas—General Session for Education and Exhibit Floor for product and service opportunities makes sense, but is it the right choice for your event?


  • CONVENIENCE: Attendees can spend time in one location. They don’t have to traverse several levels of a convention center to move from one session to another session.
  • NETWORKING: Provides more networking opportunities for attendees and exhibitors. Utilizing the space for receptions and meal functions before/after the general session will drive traffic to the hall and increase the one-to-one interaction, providing a holistic event experience.
  • DYNAMIC ATMOSPHERE: Enables the organizations to create a cohesive brand look throughout the entire event space, creating a ‘Main Hub’ feel for attendees.
  • SPONSOR ENGAGEMENT: Convention programming on the show floor provides more opportunities for sponsored sessions, product demos, and more audience engagement opportunities with sponsors.


  • DISRUPTIONS & AUDIO CHALLENGES: The exhibit hall can be a high-traffic and noisy environment for exhibitors showcasing their products or services. This creates distractions for attendees trying to focus on the content of general sessions. To combat this, schedule accordingly, Because depending on what is happening in exhibitor booths, competing audio sources may come into play.
  • LOGISTICAL CHALLENGES: Coordinating logistics, such as managing crowd flow between the exhibit hall and GS space can be complex. Additional staffing and security could be required. Scheduling around exhibit hall hours for general session load-in/out and technical and presenter rehearsals can also be limiting.
  • LACK OF SURPRISE: With the general session space being viewable to attendees at all times, presenter and technical rehearsals can be seen and heard in advance of the show. Presenters, CEOs, or Chairs may not want their speeches overheard prior to the session. If the session contains a big reveal or opens with a high-energy video, keeping these items from being previewed ahead of time should be a priority.

Ultimately, the choice between including a General Session stage in the exhibit hall or holding them separately depends on the event goal, the desired attendee experience, and logistical considerations. Each approach has its advantages, and organizers may choose the one that aligns best with their event objectives and audience preferences.

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