Planning an event requires more than just organizing activities! Creating an event planning budget is critical to the logistical and financial success of your event. 

Whether you are new to planning corporate events or a seasoned pro, it’s essential to have a thorough budget in place before any major decisions are made. In this blog, we’ll walk you through what to include in an event budget, give you an event cost breakdown by expense, and more to help you effectively budget for an event.

What To Consider When Choosing A Conference Theme

A conference theme is like the thesis statement of an essay: It communicates to your guests what they should expect from your event and what the “main idea” will be. Establishing a conference or meeting theme will help you in your event planning, keep your messaging consistent, and ultimately will support you in accomplishing your goals for the event.

Here are some things to consider when choosing corporate event themes: 

  • Why are you hosting this event?
  • What do you want attendees to take away from your event?
  • Who is your audience for this event? What unites your audience?
  • What topics or ideas are important to your audience right now? 

Corporate Event Themes

Building your corporate event upon a strong core theme helps to make the experience more cohesive and engaging for your attendees. Once you’ve selected a theme, you can solidify it by incorporating it into many different aspects of your event, from your event programming topics to the decor and more. 

We’ve broken down our favorite themes for conferences and meeting themes into three main categories: Business conferences, leadership conferences, and corporate meetings. A business conference differs from a leadership conference in its audience and themes; a business conference will likely have a more general theme and broader audience while a leadership conference is focused on leadership topics for those who are in positions of leadership in their respective businesses or industries.   

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Business Conference Themes

The best conference themes are applicable to all your attendees without being too broad or vague. Business conferences tend to have more inspirational themes or motivational themes that encourage guests to try new tactics or think about a challenge in a different way. 

If you’re struggling to find a business conference theme that excites you and your target audience, consider keeping an eye on the current trending conference themes. New, relevant topics are always being generated by changes in the global or national market, developing technologies, and consumer trends, and these are all great places to look for your next conference theme.

For example, the recent explosion of AI technology has activated interesting, multifaceted conversations in industries like digital marketing and creative fields like fine art, digital art and publishing. A strong 2023 conference topic for marketers might be “Using AI to Your Advantage in the Digital Marketplace” or “Revitalized, Not Replaced: Incorporating AI into Digital Marketing Strategies.” 

Explore five of our favorite conference theme ideas for engaging business conferences:  

Leveraging Technology For Business Growth

Technology is always changing, but your audience’s desire to grow and strengthen their businesses remains constant. This event theme allows you to cover as many or as few tech topics as you’d like, from basics like social media and video content to more high-level topics like virtual reality, AI tech or in-depth analytics and customer targeting. A technology theme is also easy to incorporate into your event’s decor and branding—think a color palette of sleek blues, grays and silvers and patterns that evoke cyberspace. 

Guiding the Customer Journey

Many businesses think they know their customers inside and out—but how much do they really know about how their customers choose them over their competitors? Where are they succeeding in reaching their customers, and what points in their customers’ journey could be improved? These are the questions your business conference will answer, with the goal of improving your attendees’ rate of success turning prospects into lifelong customers. 

Innovation @ Work

The ability to adapt to challenges in new, dynamic ways is critical to the success of any business, especially in today’s rapidly-evolving market. This conference theme centers innovation, with programming that helps businesses identify roadblocks to innovation within their own processes. It places a special emphasis on methods of encouraging employees to think outside the box and present creative solutions. This is a great, hands-on theme that sparks big ideas and new perspectives in your audience.

Dollars & Sense: Making Your Marketing Spend Count

Every business needs strong marketing strategies, regardless of their audience or industry. Unfortunately, many businesses are throwing their cash away on marketing tactics that are unsuccessful. Your guests may not even be aware of the extent to which they’re wasting their marketing spend! 

To build upon this conference theme idea, you’ll want to pull in marketing experts who are well-versed in multiple tactics like traditional marketing, digital and social media marketing, and the many variations in between. With these experts as your featured speakers or workshop leaders, your guests will feel confident that they’ll walk away with actionable insights on how to better spend their marketing budget. 

Of course, this conference theme can be interpreted in your decor and branding in many different ways, but the obvious choice is to incorporate greens and metallics to bring to mind literal dollars and cents. 

Feedback Loop: Building Foundations of Teamwork & Trust

Unless your guests are running a one-person show, they’re working with a team of peers—and developing strong team dynamics can be challenging. This conference theme focuses on feedback and constructive criticism in a team environment, and will teach your guests how to communicate with their teammates in an effective manner. This theme is great for events that will feature break-out groups and hands-on learning, as it provides a platform for guests to experiment with new communication styles in a no-stakes environment.

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Leadership Conference Themes

As discussed above, a leadership conference focuses on topics for business leaders, whether they are in a C-suite position or a management position within their organization. Leadership conference themes tend to lean toward professional development topics for the individual leader as well as learning new skills, like identifying different communication or work styles within your team. 

Here are five of our favorite leadership conference theme ideas for your next leadership summit or convention: 

Leadership In Non-Traditional Work Environments

It’s a brave new working world out there: After the work-from-home boom that began in 2020, more companies than ever are learning to navigate partially-remote or fully-remote teams and their dynamics. In these new work environments, your attendees are looking for guidance on how to best lead their teams and manage workflows—which is where your event comes in! Your featured speakers should be fellow leaders who have found ways to bring their teams together despite distance. 

Coaching Your Way to Success 

Some of the best leaders are more than visionaries for their companies—they are active participants in the personal and professional development of their team. This leadership conference topic focuses on effective coaching techniques for business leaders. Possible programming topics could include strengths identification, workload management, coaching tactics to empower and engage, and group exercises in feedback and goal-setting. 

Leadership In Challenging Times

Whether your organization is undergoing an acquisition, change in leadership or management, or a major upheaval in your industry, leading successfully in turbulent times can be hugely difficult and downright overwhelming. This evergreen conference idea is sure to engage leaders who want to be as prepared as possible to navigate difficult situations in their company and come out on the other side stronger and more successful.

To support this conference theme, consider extending featured speaker offers to CEOs who have successfully led teams through recessions or the 2020 pandemic, or to leaders who have seen their companies through PR crises, corporate layoffs, or other major upheavals. Hearing from people who have experienced these challenges (and lived to tell the tale!) can inspire your attendees and instill confidence in their own ability to do the same. 

Leading by Example: Mental Health & Wellness in the Workplace

Today’s workforce values their mental wellbeing and work-life balance more than any other in history. To be a leader in the modern workplace, an awareness of mental health topics and wellness tactics is critical—but to be a successful leader, one must move beyond awareness into action. This conference theme positions your guests to lead by example in the workplace wellness sphere by offering guidance for implementing policies that are supportive to mental health, developing a mentally- and emotionally-healthy workplace culture, and providing appropriate language and tactics for engaging with employees about their mental wellness. 

For this conference theme to be helpful to your audience, it’s crucial that you enlist vetted experts in the mental health and wellness field, like licensed and practicing psychologists who specialize in organizational wellness, medical doctors who have studied the impact of workplace stress on physical health, and business leaders who have had their own mental health struggles or crises and worked to apply their lived experience to the way they interact with their employees. These experts will not only provide legitimacy to your event, but also provide your guests with the most reliable, trustworthy information about these sensitive topics.

President of Personality: Authenticity in Leadership

Nobody likes a phony, especially not as their boss! This can be a surprisingly fun conference theme that encourages guests to show more of their personality and authenticity in their leadership. This theme focuses on transparency, with programming that centers on honest conversations with employees, coming out of your shell, and relating to your employees as people. 

To implement this theme across your event, you might consider hiring a speaker who is both a business leader and a comedian to open the conference and set the tone. You could even feature a performance by an interactive theater group in the vein of The Neofuturists or a ComedySportz team to get your guests on their feet and out of their comfort zones. Bright colors and bold shapes work well as design elements for this conference theme.

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Corporate Meeting Themes

Conference themes can also be implemented in smaller settings, like corporate meetings and team-building events. These corporate meetings can range from small internal teams of a dozen people or less to company-wide meetings, so our suggested meeting themes below are ideas that can be applied to groups of any size. 

Read on to explore five meeting theme ideas that will shake up your basic company meeting:

Collaborate To Innovate

Collaboration is critical to successful teams, and it can lead to some of the best, most creative ideas. This meeting topic encourages teammates to share their challenges and ideas with one another and be open to feedback and brainstorming. For this meeting theme, incorporate some fun, collaborative team exercises or games to get people working together and thinking as a group. You could also take the meeting out of the board room to an escape room or similar challenge to activate your group and start solving problems efficiently and creatively. 

Goal! Setting & Achieving Your Objectives

This goal-setting meeting theme is designed to inspire groups to think deeply about their professional objectives and set short- and long-term plans to achieve them. Your meeting can have a brainstorming phase, where attendees journal or chat with others about their potential goals, followed by a roadmapping phase in which they break down their objectives into smaller, more attainable steps to achievement. Lean into the “goal” theme with soccer imagery, face paint and game-day snacks to make this theme truly fun. (“Ted Lasso” is uber-popular right now for a reason!) 

Crossing the Finish Line

Another sporty meeting theme, this is a great central idea for a meeting focused on closing deals! What has been successful in helping prospects “cross the finish line?” Encourage guests to share the challenges they frequently face when closing a deal, and brainstorm tactics to instill client confidence and bridge the decision gap. If you really want to bring this fun meeting theme to the next level, consider adding a relay race or three-legged race to the agenda! 

Moving to Mastery

Some teams struggle in communicating their value and expertise to potential clients or business partners. If your organization is striving to position itself at the top of its field and optimize the experience and expertise of its team, this is a great meeting theme to consider. 

Focus your conversation and programming on raising up each team or team member’s unique strengths or “mastery” of certain skills, and explore effective language to communicate that value to your target audiences. Mindfulness exercises, which hone in on the mind-body connection and can help quiet the mind in high-stress situations like pitch meetings or presentations, can be especially useful activities for this meeting theme. 

In-Office Retreat: De-stress & Reset

Last but not least, here’s a meeting theme everyone can get behind: Relaxation! With workplace stress at an all-time high, it’s important to find ways to incorporate de-stressing techniques into your corporate day-to-day. Try gathering a group for an aww-inducing puppy party with your local humane society or animal shelter, or invite a professional chair massage team to the office to work out some of those hunched-over-a-computer-all-day aches and pains. If those ideas aren’t in your budget, consider no-cost alternatives like a YouTube yoga session or a relaxing Mandala coloring challenge.

Host Your Conference At The Heritage Center Of Brooklyn Center

Ready to host your best corporate conference ever? We’re ready to help you make it happen! The Heritage Center of Brooklyn Center is the Twin Cities’ premier event venue for corporate meetings of all sizes, scopes and themes. Contact us today to connect with one of our expert event planners and start planning your next extraordinary event!