“Another meeting that could have been an email.” We’ve all been there. It’s painful. It’s also something rarely uttered during a companywide conference or annual meeting. That’s because the impact of bringing team members and partners from a far-flung or international organization together in one place cannot be replicated. These meetings build morale, inform, educate, and inspire. They connect, motivate, and foster growth.
At the height of the pandemic, many companies did their best to capture those qualities virtually or hosted multiple small gatherings, but there is nothing like a singular companywide conference. There might also be nothing as formulaic. Nearly every event includes a welcome session, awards, cocktail hour, entertainment, general sessions, breakout sessions, trade show, and networking opportunity in some form or fashion, but with good reason – they work. The question then is how to feature all of these agenda elements while keeping attendees engaged and excited.
As companies get back into the swing of hosting annual meetings, Streamline has developed a guide on how to create memorable meetings that capture attendees’ attention, help the host organization achieve its goals, and will have every guest counting down the days until the next one.
To kick off the five-part series, we’re highlighting “consistent theme.” Everything’s better with a theme – birthday parties, college parties, even office parties. They elevate any event with a unique stamp. At a company meeting, a theme not only engages and adds excitement, but it also links together disparate events and activities and can reinforce key content in an appealing way. After all, a lot of information is shared at these meetings. It is easy for attendees to get overwhelmed and overstimulated, causing them to head home with only memories of the dinner menu and the musical guest.
“A key factor to successful theme is consistency and repetition,” explained Lauren Hamilton, Executive Director at Streamline Event Agency.
That means the theme isn’t just conveyed through the event’s name and logo. It is reinforced in session themes, signage, activities, and beyond. The messaging, audio, and interactive experiences can and should all ladder up to and feature the theme.
“We are very intentional with every aspect of the event experience, from colors, to movement, to sound, to size and placement. By being deliberate and calculated with these things you can reinforce narrative in a powerful way,” said Hein Zaayman, Head of Design at Streamline Creative Studio.
For its 2022 Pro Partner Conference, for example, heating, cooling and water-heating manufacturer Rheem landed on the theme Pro Powered and carried it through its entire two-day event in Las Vegas. The company relies on partners around the world to represent the brand and install its products. The Pro Partners are the force behind Rheem, and after several years apart, the partners were reconvening with renewed energy and excitement.
Pro Powered was captured in breakout sessions such as “All systems go” and “Cranking Digital Marketing to the Max.” The trade show, dubbed Electric Avenue, featured sponsors and vendors “powering” innovation, enhanced by the Eddy Grant 1982 hit. Other on-theme messaging included “Knowledge is Power” and “Fully Charged,” and the event’s host kicked off the meeting by “turning on” the energy during the welcome session. Every time an attendee participated in an event or activity, some element of electricity or power was conveyed. The result was a cohesive event that kept the entire group stimulated and engaged for the entire two days.
It is important to keep in mind that while a consistent theme is impactful, it should still align with the brand in some way. Pro Powered worked on several levels for Rheem, from the ways in which its Pro Partners “power” the brand to the fact that its equipment needs to be “powered up” to work. If it is challenging for organizers to connect sessions and messages to the theme, it might not be the best one for your company’s event.
In our next post on how to create an exceptional and memorable meeting, we’ll delve into ways to keep your audience engaged. A cohesive, exciting theme is just the beginning.