5 Tips for Creating Fun & Memorable Themes for Your Trainings

We’ve themed a lot of workshops at the Bob Pike Group.

Here are five tips that are the key things to be mindful of as you're creating effective themes.

1. Start with an analogy

Forrest Gump’s mom told him life is like a box of chocolates.

a forrest gump scene on a bench

That's an example of an analogy. Taking a complex idea (life) and connecting it to something that's more familiar, more understandable, more visual, and more relatable (a box of chocolates). You never know what you're going to get in a box of chocolates, and in life.

In the workshop “How to Present with Pizazz Online”, we started with the analogy of pizazz-y ‘80s hairstyles.

pizazz magazine

Four attributes of a pizazz-y hairstyle informed four aspects of a pizazz-y presenter:

  • Standing out from the crowd
  • Displaying confidence
  • Sparking emotion
  • Being memorable

2. Let learners make the initial connection

a kid playing connect 4

For example, we did this in the workshop “Dream Theme” by having learners brainstorm in the chat box how the definition of a ringmaster’s role reminds learners of a trainer's job.

a ringmaster in a circus show

The learners made that initial connection, so that it's not just me as the trainer trying to bend in an analogy. It’s the learners participating in that initial connection.

3. You can't please everyone, but you can include everyone

a circle of people with hands in the middle to cheer

In the workshop “Crack into Learner Motivation”, we connected the things that motivate Rocky (throughout the entire movie franchise) to the things that motivate our learners.

9 things that motivate rocky and your learners

If I had shown the Rocky training montage, and then come out of that and simply told learners about nine things that motivate Rocky (throughout the movie franchise), and connected them to things that motivate learners, that wouldn't have created enough of a connection for everybody, even people who had seen all the Rocky movies, to make that connection fully.

I needed to create a Rocky trivia completion activity that learners would work on together in breakout rooms.

in your breakout room, create a team name and complete the rocky trivia in your handout

Maybe not everybody in each breakout room had seen the movie, but at least they'd be in a breakout room with people who had. That helped everybody get enough of the background on the movie franchise to be able to make those connections between the movie, the theme, and the content.

4. Go all in

playing cards

Yes, ALL in.

go all in

5. Finish with a themed closer

track runners crossing the finish line

This will be key in helping make your theme especially memorable.

In the Rocky workshop, for the closer activity, we put learners back in their original breakout rooms that they were in at the start of the workshop. We had them go around their breakout room and brainstorm 15 next steps they're going to take based on things they learned in the workshop. We chose the number 15 so that we could call the activity the “15 Rounds” closer, which layered in the boxing theme to make it more memorable.

3 bonus jabs

Then when they came out of that final breakout room, we had everybody individually text chat their favorite “one-two” combination, which is also boxing terminology (their two favorite next steps that their breakout room brainstormed).

Among those five tips for creating effective themes, which one was your favorite tip? The thing that stood out to you most? The thing that you're especially going to focus on applying moving forward?

stamp your favorite tip

Before we wrap up, here’s another example of a themed closer.

According to P.T. Barnum, who created the Barnum & Bailey Circus, “the noblest art is that of making others happy”.

P.T. Barnum

What do you think is the noblest art for trainers?

Based on what you discovered in this content, how would you finish the sentence below?

For trainers, the noblest art is that of ______________________________________.

finish the quote

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