Pasta without sauce is edible, but it sure lacks flavor and pizzazz. Similarly, meetings without a theme or personality can be staid, boring, and flavorless. Leaving this important ingredient out could compromise not only your dish, but your event success.

A compelling theme draws attendees into a central idea, unifies business objectives, and provides an overall focus to the event. A great theme permeates your event, lends a bit of fun or energy to the attendee experience, and creates excitement and buzz. It’s the headline of your event’s overall mission. And it can be a powerful communication device.

So, how do you create such a dynamic theme?

First, consider these key aspects of your event:

  1. Your audience, such as age group, interests, needs, or goals
  2. Event objectives and how the theme could personify those topics
  3. The host city or venue and how it could tie into your theme

Next, follow these tips for developing an effective theme:

  • Get Focused. Your theme helps shape your agenda, and should focus on the business objectives for your event. What will your attendees come away remembering from your event?
  • Keep It Simple. You want your theme to be compact and memorable. If it’s too long or complicated, no one will remember it, or they could misinterpret it.
  • Be Different. A unique theme will differentiate your event and content from prior events – and from competing conferences. Make sure yours stands out.
  • Get Excited. The unveiling of your theme can become an event in and of itself. Generate buzz and anticipation with your theme via media and social channels. Send out teaser emails in advance of the “big reveal.”
  • Speak to Your Speakers. A theme gives your speakers meaning, context, and direction for their remarks. Consider incorporating your theme into PowerPoint templates for your presenters.
  • Be True to Your Brand. Make sure your theme is consistent with your organization’s image. If yours is a conservative organization, a “wild-n-crazy” theme might not work. Make sure your theme complements your brand or industry.

Once you’ve decided on your conference theme, take it to the next level by infusing it into anything and everything associated with your event.

Ways to maximize your theme:

  • Create a slogan or tagline to complement your core theme
  • Develop a unique theme logo and use it in marketing materials; onsite materials like programs and name badges; and merchandise items like cups, pens, or hats
  • Consider your theme when developing signage, event decoration, materials, etc.

The best themes take complex business objectives and translate them into catchy sound bites.  They personify those objectives into concepts attendees can picture and connect with. If you keep your target audience members and their reasons for attending in mind, your theme will resonate and develop a deep connection with your attendees.

Kate Dodd is Marketing Manager at Abila Product Partner Expo Logic, which provides innovative event management solutions worldwide.