Creating a Better Conference Theme

Got an event or conference in your company's future? You're gonna need
a theme. We break down how to do it better.

We’ve all been to conferences, and we’ve all probably found some of the themes less than inspiring. So the first instinct of all you conference planners out there may be to ditch the idea altogether. Don’t. Instead, treat your next event like you would a product launch. You want to connect with all your clients—from the most loyal to the occasional user—inspiring them to reconnect with your business. And a sound conference or event theme can do that.

Don’t start flashing back to 10th grade English class; we promise this will be much simpler and easier to execute than a two-page essay on existentialism. Just follow our tips to create a theme that sets the tone for your event, is pertinent to your audience and generates genuine enthusiasm.

Why a theme?

A theme is basically the tagline for your event. It’s a statement, using words and images, about who your company is, where it is heading and what you can offer your customer. It should encapsulate what your conference is about but also be broad enough to include a diverse group of speakers and thoughts. Why? Because you want your attendees to make connections between the different ideas in their own unique way. If everyone walks away thinking the same thing, you haven’t really prompted anyone to ask new questions or engaged them on an individual level.

How should you decide your theme?

When you are thinking about a theme for your event, consider the following five questions:

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Who is your audience?
  • Where and when is the event occurring?
  • Why will your audience be interested?
  • How is all of this connected?

What makes a theme good or bad?

Let’s start with what you should avoid—anything gimmicky, cheesy, generic or uninspiring. You can certainly have some fun with your theme, but never forget your main objective. A good theme will provide a framework for your marketing efforts around the event. It is the unsung workhouse of your entire conference, pulling together different speakers and topics, uniting everything to offer insight and freshness to both new and repeat attendees.

Here are three other reasons why a good theme is so important:

1.     A good theme generates its own buzz. When attendees are excited about the opportunities your conference presents, they will do some of the marketing for you, sharing your event on social media.

2.     A good theme will give your speakers insight into your audience’s needs. For the people at your conference to learn from the speakers, they need to present the material in a way that attendees can relate to.

3.     A good theme will anchor all aspects of your event. Everything you do to market the conference from logos to catering can (and should) be traced back to the event's theme, serving as a fully immersive reinforcement of the event's takeaway message.