As an event planner, the weight of each and every conference seems to rest on your shoulders. From the location to the speakers to the food, you want every detail to be perfect. Often, those decisions will all be based on what you choose for your theme.
You could play it safe, but why? You want the attendees to remember this event for years to come. You want to see the wide-eyed expressions on their faces as they walk through the conference with awe and wonderment. And you want to have that amazing conversation with the client or your higher up where they tell you that you've exceeded their expectations and you'll be hearing from them as soon as next year's conference planning is underway.
If you want to create an event that will go down in the history books, it's time to dig deep, get creative, and plan the event of a lifetime.
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Trending Conference Themes for 2019
You want as many people to attend as possible and for attendees to get the most out of the event as they can. In order to do that, you'll need to select a theme that appeals to their desire to learn and grow but also piques their sense of adventure and satisfies their yearning for entertainment.
Take a look at these trending conference themes and see if any of them create a spark for you. Then, we'll discuss how to tailor them to your event.
- Wellness and Health - Productivity, sales success, providing good customer service... all of these are difficult (if not impossible) when wellness and health are not taken into account. Attendees need to learn how to get their physical, mental, and emotional houses in order before they can excel in the office.
- Leadership - Leadership isn't just for managers anymore. Companies with strong, focused, self-disciplined, autonomous, self-sufficient employees will see better returns than those with "flock" mentality. Encourage every employer to be a leader, whether they have direct reports or not.
- Reinvention and Resilience - As the economic climate changes, many (if not all) industries are seeing some sort of challenges with the way they've always operated. The successful companies will be the ones that learn to reinvent themselves and lead the change.
- Productivity - Companies want their employees to be as productive as possible. Giving them the tools to manage their time and responsibilities appropriately can help.
- Sustainability - Our environment needs us. Companies have the ability to improve their bottom line without endangering the planet further. It's not only good for the world, but it's also becoming an expectation of customers.
- Women in Business - Glass ceilings are being shattered every day. A conference focused on women in business can improve leadership skills, decrease the pay discrepancies, and celebrate the amazing and unique characteristics that women bring to the business world.
- Marketing - Businesses are constantly looking to reach more potential customers and get their message front and center. A focus on marketing can help companies identify who they're trying to reach, where those individuals are, and how to best craft their message for them.
- Technology and Social Media - Love it or hate it, technology is always evolving, and social media is here to stay. Attendees would benefit from understanding the latest advancements and how to incorporate them into their job responsibilities.
- Communications - No matter what innovations occur in technology, communication will always be the most important aspect of life and business. How do employees interact with one another? With customers? With direct reports or with management? The better you're able to communicate, the more successful you'll be.
- Demographic, Social/ Lifestyle and Environmental Trends - The world is changing. Businesses can embrace this fact and learn how to evolve, or they can ignore these trends and perish.
- Creativity - Innovation comes from creativity. And successful business comes from innovation. Any business could benefit from thinking more creatively.
- Harmony - Diversity and Gender Fluidity - Do employees know how to interact with people that are different from them? We don't all need to agree, but we do need to find a way to understand and respect our differences.
- Trust - Developing an environment of trust is so important to a company or brand's future. Whether between employees, employees and management, or the company and their customers/ potential customers, focusing on building trust will increase brand loyalty, attract the best talent, and pay off in the long run.
- Customer Experience - Customer service is no longer king... it's the customer experience. What do customers experience from the moment they learn about a company, throughout the sales process, and well past the close? How can it be improved?
- Culture - Corporate culture has become a popular buzzword for companies and organizations. Focusing on this at a conference can help ensure that everyone is on the same page with their attitude, goals, and behaviors.
- Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy - Employees' and customers' expectations have changed. The job of a company has spread beyond providing a service or product. It now includes providing a benefit to the community.
- Storytelling - Whether the bulk of your audience is in sales, leadership, or customer service... or they just need to communicate with fellow human beings, storytelling skills can improve their performance and help them create an emotional connection with anyone they speak to.
- Working with Difficult People - It would be lovely if everyone got along... but that's just not a reality. Employees could benefit strongly from learning techniques to deal with challenging people in the office and in the field.
- Teamwork - Are employees working together for the good of the organization, or have they gone rogue? Employees that function as a team unit rather than being isolated from the group, are happier, healthier, more productive, and more likely to stay loyal to the company.
- Performance - With the proper motivation and education, employees will perform better and be more satisfied at work. And the company will see an improvement in the bottom line.
Related: How to Host a Knock-Out Sales Conference
How to Come Up With Conference Theme Ideas
Hopefully, some of the above ideas have gotten you thinking. If you'd like to stick with one of the trending themes, but perhaps you'd also like to add some zest to the event, here are a few ideas you can use to develop a theme that wows.
Who Is It For?
Consider the industry. There's nothing worse than walking into a party wearing the same outfit as someone else... so don't plan the same event as someone else. Do your research and figure out what themes similar companies or organizations are using and then do something different.
Take your attendees into account. Not every theme is a good fit for everyone. Think about who will be coming to the event. Are they generally male or female? A specific age range? Do they all have similar job responsibilities? Tailor your theme ideas to the specific people who attend and it will be more likely to appeal to them.
What do the attendees need to learn? If the organization is going through a massive shift, perhaps focusing on reinvention or resilience would benefit the attendees. If sales have been low, maybe a focus on marketing, communication, or customer experience would be helpful.
Where Will It Be?
What city or state will be hosting? Certain locations like Las Vegas, Miami, or Houston have their own personality. Factor that into your thematic planning and create a unique experience for attendees.
Which venue have you chosen? Consider the decor of the event space. Is it rustic? Modern? Nature inspired? This could help you uncover the perfect theme.
Dare to Be Different
Step up your theme. Perhaps one of the trending themes really caught your eye. How can you make it special?
- If your focus is Teamwork, you could create a rock and roll themed event that inspires employees to work together as a band rather than as solo artists.
- If your theme is Sustainability, why not bring the outdoors inside with a beach, jungle, or woodsy feel?
- When the theme is Storytelling, you could pay homage to the greatest stories of childhood and create a fairytale event.
- Looking to improve the Health and Wellness of attendees? You could create a Zen-themed event complete with meditation stations, yoga classes, and a rock garden for attendees to stroll through.
- If your focus is on improving Creativity, you could create an art museum themed event or turn the venue into a Lego playland that encourages attendees to experiment and build.
- Focusing on Diversity? What about a celebration of the world's cultures?
- If your theme is Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy, why not center your event around a cause and show attendees how they can get involved?
You want your event to be a rousing success. While there are many details that go into making this a reality, choosing the theme is one of the most important decisions you will make. Select a theme that's appropriate for the industry and the attendees and the organization's current climate, and then throw in some creativity to spice it up and make it an event that attendees will never forget.