When it comes to planning a memorable, engaging corporate event, the choice of theme is everything. Will it be a top-secret (business) intelligence affair, or are you topping the rock-and-roll (sales) charts? Perhaps you’re busting down company silos and bringing the whole “crew” together to “construct” a more collaborative organization.
Whatever you choose, the theme has the potential to get people excited, increase engagement, and amplify the message you’re trying to convey. Here’s how:
A well-chosen theme that shines through in the invitations and other pre-event communication will help to stir up excitement for attendees. It can generate buzz and get people talking, which will help to build engagement before the event even begins. Whether serious or slightly whimsical, including your theme in the event communications also sets the tone, giving people an idea of what to expect on event day.
Tip: Using an email program like MailChimp or Constant Contact makes it easy to create beautiful emails that incorporate colors, logos, images, and even videos that capture your theme. As a bonus, they also provide data on how attendees are interacting with your emails, so you can see whether they have read them and what they’ve clicked.
Ties Everything Together
When you apply your theme to every aspect of your event — the venue, music, food, decorations, event logo, communications, and even the event content itself — you create a unified multisensory experience. Not only does this create cohesion to reinforce the event message, but it also gives you fresh ways to present information, knowledge, and training, so that it draws people in and feels unique.
Tip: Be sure to choose a theme that you can execute with the budget and timelines you have available. It is better to choose a simpler theme and put more focus on incorporating it completely than to pick one or two dazzling thematic elements and not carry the theme throughout the event. For example, the coolest venue in the world may not have the impact you want if it consumes most of your budget. On the other hand, a less expensive venue can leave more resources available to weave your thematic elements more deeply throughout your event. The more you use the theme to tie your event together, the more effective it will be.
Achieves Event Objectives
As Christina Green succinctly puts it on the Event Manager Blog, “A theme is not a silly party. It is a meaningful reflection and interpretation of your event’s goals and objectives.” Use your event theme to turn a set of stakeholder objectives into a story that resonates with the audience. The perfect balance is a theme that brings the event objectives to life while leaving just enough room for your attendees to interpret them in ways that are meaningful for them.
Tip: Before you select your event theme, sit down with stakeholders and be sure you understand their objectives completely. Then, consider the needs and interests of the attendees and how achieving the stakeholder objectives will help them. Combining these two perspectives will help you choose the perfect theme.
Creates Value for Attendees
Let’s face it: a well executed theme is…well, fun! This is great for the attendees' experience, not just because it’s enjoyable, but also because the more engaging the event, the more value it retains after the fact.
According to Barbara Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory, positive emotions allow us to set aside our automatic responses so we can think and act in more creative, flexible, and unpredictable ways. Any time this happens, we build new skills and behaviors from which to draw going forward. Further research published in the journal Psychological Science confirmed that being in a good mood increases cognitive flexibility.
In other words, when people feel good and are having fun, they can break out of old thought processes and become more creative, and while the mindset is temporary, the skills and knowledge gained while in this flexible mental state stay with them. That means that having a fun, engaging theme for your corporate event can enable your attendees learn and retain the information you want them to take away and remember it long after the event ends.
Tip: Consider incorporating an experiential activity as the team building portion of your corporate event. These fun activities explicitly use theming that, when paired with a debrief by a skilled facilitator, can lead to some terrific epiphanies that are memorable and valuable to attendees.
It can be a bit of work to come up with a theme that metaphorically ties into the objectives of your event, then weave your thematic elements together in ways that cleverly support the event objectives, but the payoff can be incredible. Not only will your event be immersive and memorable, a creative corporate event theme changes your event from a series of meetings and presentations into a cohesive, memorable, and engaging experience.