Theme weaving your way to more engaging events

Theme weaving is the process where you imagine the big picture of your event and develop a theme that integrates your core values with a clear call to action. The chosen theme will naturally vary depending on your event, ranging from a one-night fundraiser to a multi-day conference or incentive program, to name a few of the more commonly themed events. Theme development must involve planners and stakeholders who clearly understand the stated goals.
Meeting theme development: Theme weaving your way to more engaging eventsTheme weaving means each element becomes an integrated part of the experience. Part art and part science, success comes through ongoing diligence and clear communication throughout the process of developing your cohesive plan. Meeting producers who focus on using immersive storytelling principles to communicate a consistent message have magic in the making. Every speaker, performer, staff member and volunteer must understand what is required in their role to create an overall seamless experience interwoven with positive surprises to delight guests. With this group and your other vendor partners, you will together create the structure, the fabric of your event.

At this point you may be thinking, “Well, my scientific/technical/other serious organization is focused at their meetings on sharing knowledge, and we don’t need to create any ‘magic.’” You might also be thinking, “What is this nonsense?” Here are the potential impacts.

So your meeting is focused on lectures and sessions that share knowledge. The presenters might be there to build a CV or to share research or current best practices. If they are all working to a theme (building, growth, innovation, shared success) that drives their messages, your participants will be able to more clearly connect the dots from their learning to their own situations, including better retention of shared learning. Shared learning can develop connections which lead to deeper relationships and even collaborations, which may lead to innovations that have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Your incentive program definitely needs some magic. After all, your participants will have been working for months, or longer, to achieve their travel reward and want to celebrate. This group of people must be immersed in the destinations and experiences that give them stories to share. You want these people to return with so many positive memories they are motivated to continue to achieve, and to inspire those around them to also achieve this reward, and have their own awesome experiences.

We know the brain is wired for positive surprise, that we respond with increased adrenaline and attention when we are presented with something unexpected. This can range from walking into a room with a unique setup – a change through lighting and projection in the look of the room. It may involve a key message presented that offers a new perspective or entertainment that creates an emotional response. When these are put together under a cohesive theme, the visceral responses created will be measured in the positive returns seen on post-event evaluations, and in the refreshed energy of the participants.

Theme weaving gives you the opportunity to identify the core purpose, build out the details of each touch-point for alignment, and ultimately participants will leave richer for the experience. They will be more likely to return the next year, perhaps encouraging colleagues to join them. This is one of the most satisfying components of our strategic meeting planning roles, and one that should be nurtured and relished – enjoy!

About the author:

Tahira Endean, CMP, DES, CED, is a curious event producer, passionate about intentional event design and the integration of now-ubiquitous technology to enhance the human experience at events and everyday. Tahira is committed to the industry and has been recognized for a range of contributions. In 2016, she was named a MeetingsNet Changemaker, and nominated in Vancouver for Global Meetings Industry Day Influencer and MPI BC Chapter Mentor of the Year. In 2015 she was named one of the “Top 5 Women in Event Technology”, was inducted into the Meetings Canada Hall of Fame in the Big Idea category, and most recently was one of Canada’s 20 most Fascinating Women in events from Canadian Special Event magazine. Driven by a fascination with what we are learning about neuroscience and the power of the five senses to enhance memory, knowledge retention and improve connections, she is continually seeking appropriate ways to design the most relevant meeting and event environments. An instructor at BCIT, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, she instructs both Special Event Planning and Sustainable Event Management. She contributed to the 9th CIC Manual which provides the framework for the CMP studies. She is the author of Intentional Event Design: Our Professional Opportunity. Tahira also loves cooking, time with her family, and anything with bubbles!

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