LinuxTag is over and it's left me feeling incredibly positive. We really made an impact and we saw incredible demand for a usable desktop. GNOME is becoming clearly defined as the desktop for regular people who want to get things done. We invigorated our volunteers and brought in fantastic new people, plus we made great contacts with other organisations and got fantastic TV coverage. The GNOME Deutschland volunteers should feel really proud of themselves.
While most stands were passive and unwelcoming (even the X.org guys were almost hiding their fantastic new toys), we had at least 2 people in front of the stand all the time, drawing in the crowds. It really paid off to prepare simple talking points, including “GNOME is the easy to use desktop”, asking whether they are GNOME users already, and the latest news on GNOME 2.11 (people love hierarchical spatial).
Using LiveCDs as props also makes us incredibly effective (see our press release about giving away around 1200 CDs). The GNOME bags were popular too – there's a big demand for GNOME merchandise from people who want to show their love for GNOME. It's strikingly similar to Mac fans' non-techy enthusiasm and identification with a product.
We had a computer (sometimes 2) with keyboard/mouse to play with, but in future I'd like to have one showing a recording, maybe via the Istanbul screen recorder. We had 2 screens just showing people's laptop desktops, but I often had to remind people to show the default simple desktop instead of their cluttered panels and wacky themes. You've got to keep it simple.
Also, though it seems counter-intuitive, it's probably a good idea in general to a) not have enough chairs for the presenters, to force them to stay in front of the stand, b) not have chairs in front of the test computers, to keep the flow of people moving and to encourage conversation.