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How To Build An Event Around A Carefully Chosen Theme

by Katie Nesbit-Blackburn
Podium at NAF Imagine Our Future Conference

At LAI Live, we know that from the minute your attendees walk through the door at your event to the final applause, your organization’s values and goals are on display in big and small ways.

While event themes add pizazz, they are such an important aspect of your event. Event themes set the tone of your event with one overarching question or statement, allow the event message to be communicated in layers reminding guests why they are gathered, let your attendees know what they should expect from the day, help your audeince connect the dots and, in so doing, it unifies them, and contribute to a memorable event that can have positive, lingering effects. And that being responsible for that mission is both exciting and daunting.

Events are experiences, which is why the LAI Live team always works hand-in-hand with each of our clients to help them think through the most effective way to communicate this year’s priorities, and to devise strategies to surprise and delight attendees.

Here's how we recently helped a client build an event around a carefully chosen theme and successfully executed that event theme. 

This past July, we teamed up with NAF to produce NAF Next 2018, a dynamic professional development conference bringing together education, business, and community leaders to address some of the biggest challenges facing education and the economy.

During the initial planning phase, our team worked very closely with the NAF team to brainstorm and conceptualize the conference theme decisions through interactive conversations, to define goals, strategize audience engagement, and develop the conference arc.

The NAF conference arc began by creating several rounds of mood boards and logos to capture the exciting and optimistic theme of ‘Imagine Our Future,’ quickly followed by the development of custom show graphics for two 32’x12’ curved tension fabric screens.

naf set of curved screens

The second step in the arc was developing online branding to promote the conference. Simultaneously, the core production team held weekly calls to discuss programming development. LAI Live created a series of run of shows that allowed NAF to see how their messaging could be conveyed through different program formats, changing the standard keynote segments into two-way audience conversations. Nearing the top of the arc, the LAI Video team—one of the other three divisions of Leading Authorities, Inc.—jumped in creating custom videos to support the programming.

Over the course of the three-day conference, we coordinated and managed not only keynote presentations and industry VIPs, but over 40 academies being recognized individually onstage and 30 academies gathering together for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

We introduced the Sli.do app, an online platform where people can submit questions via mobile phones or tablets, with the moderator receiving them real time. That allowed nearly 100 questions to be submitted from the audience, all of which are collected for future use by the NAF's marketing initiatives. Sli.do is one of the easiest ways to add engagement into a panel or keynote presentation, and helps to make Q&A sessions easy.

We regularly use it at the shows we produce and manage in order to drive audience engagement and improve the overall experience. Here are a few more of the best event apps we recommend using.

Adding a level of engagement to the celebration dinner, we used the Sli.do app to collect song requests from the audience for the DJ, who used the music to smoothly and seamlessly transition between an elegant dinner to a wild dance party in the ballroom. 

Music is one of the most important aspects to consider in extending the event theme and influencing the mood of the crowd. And since we believe that music is a major component to producing an impactful event, we've assembled a few tips to help you pick the right music.

naf celebrating our future  

As the show wound down and NAF received their post-conference survey responses from attendees, we reached the end of the arc. Due to the positive attendee feedback on the conference programming and educational opportunities, the 2018 arc will serve as a foundation for the development of the NAF Next 2019 event messaging, which LAI Live will be deeply involved with in the upcoming months.

Execute The Perfect Theme For Your Event

Are you in the planning phases of your next event? Looking to develop a cohesive and effective theme that will carry your event from conception to execution? We can help!

The LAI Live team can help you develop your theme, build your conference arc and attendee engagement around that theme, and execute your event as you’ve always wished it could be. So, if you need help executing the perfect corporate event theme for your next show, contact our team, and we’ll send you more information regarding our event packages.

To get in touch with us, you can also fill out the form below, send us an email, call us at 202-783-0300, or live chat with a member of the team online right now. 

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