Organizing a conference is more than just sending invites to guests and booking an event space. A successful conference brings people together under a common goal and creates an atmosphere of fun and excitement that makes for lasting memories and strong connections. You want your conference to feel special — and for that reason, you need to invest in good design.

Good conference design isn’t easy, which is why the largest conferences have massive budgets to pay experienced designers. Still, you can begin building your conference design skill today by focusing on a few key details that have a significant impact on the look and feel of the entire event. Here’s

Conference Theming

You should already know the reason for creating your conference: to share new information about your industry, to reconnect members of an extended network, to celebrate a successful company expansion or something else. Sometimes, a theme is tied directly into the intended goal of the event, but sometimes, a conference theme is an unrelated design element that helps to inject some fun into the event’s branding. Often, a theme helps inform speakers and guests of the dominant topic of the event, but at the very least, it will help you select decorations for different activities, like group lunches, cocktail hours and dance parties.

When choosing a theme, you need to consider the formality of your conference. If you are striving to uphold the highest level of professionalism, you might want to select a more reserved theme, ideally one that is correlated with the goal of your event. For example, “The Future of X” or “Global Perspectives in X.” Then again, if you hope to create a more comfortable and casual atmosphere at your conference, you can opt for something a bit sillier, like beach vibes or Hollywood glamor.

You should imagine the conference theme as the foundation of the event’s brand. You will choose the colors, fonts, images and more for the conference’s promotional and informational materials based on the theme. By investing heavily in this element of conference design, you will create a more cohesive and compelling event.

Venue Selection

You should only book a venue after you have selected a date and have a good sense of the size of your conference. Using these details, you can find an event space that suits your needs. Generally, there are three types of venues that are most typically booked by conferences:

University campuses, which are inexpensive but tend to be small and best-suited for academic-style events.

Hotels, which often have dedicated conference facilities and on-site catering. This is an excellent option for simplified planning, which is perhaps why it is likely to be the most expensive option.

Independent venues, which may specialize in different types of events and thus offer various pros and cons.

When you are evaluating venues, you need to consider more than cost, size and schedule. You should also pay attention to the atmosphere of the space, as it needs to align with the feeling you expect to cultivate at your conference. As you are touring different options, you should try to imagine decorating the space to match your chosen theme; this should help you select a venue that feels right to guests and encourages comfort, confidence and conference success.


Every good conference provides guests with branded swag. The swag you offer your attendees will again depend on the formality of the event, but you might also consider the typical age of your conference guests and their general interests. For example, visitors at a professional industry conference might appreciate office supplies, whereas fan conferences might include items like t-shirts, posters and plushies. All attendees should be given visible wearables like custom wristbands or lanyards, which will help identify them as paid members of the event and give them access to different activities. You might also produce some merchandise that attendees will need to pay extra for, which can help you increase event profits.

Design can make or break a conference. Whether this is the first conference you are planning or the fifty-first, you can always improve the look and feel of your event by thinking more critically about design.