8 Tips to Build Diverse and Inclusive Virtual Events
This guest blog post is by Sarah Hill.
Inclusivity comes when one’s individuality is brought to the table. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein there is a rise of online event platform such as conferences, sessions, panel discussions, and more, held by many associations, inclusivity has somewhat declined. Despite the resurgence of movements like Black Lives Matter, it seems as though the incapability of hosting physical events has stifled inclusivity.
However, luckily, virtual event planners have come up with ways to build a more open, diverse, and inclusive online environment in events that can keep employees engaged throughout. It involves taking into consideration everyone’s needs and inspiring real change. This, in turn, can have a significantly positive impact on the morale of the employees and encourage virtual team building.
To help you create a virtual event exactly like this, we have put together 8 tips and best practices. Keep reading this guide to find out what they are.
1. Diversify the Staff At Your Company
Inclusivity begins with your company, and you can only hold a successful diverse online event with a diverse organizing team. Therefore, build a diverse organizing team of employees to help plan and execute your event. They should be diverse in their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, and so on. This will help bring different perspectives and allow your event to reach a wider and diverse audience if you plan to make it open to the public. It will also enable better planning. For instance, you can make sure that your event is not planned on any significant cultural or religious date.
2. Diversify Your Speakers and Presenters
The second prominent factor that can significantly enhance the diversity and inclusivity of your event is diversifying the speakers and presenters. It’s time to do something different from the regular speakers from the same industry and instead invite those from a different pool.
Most events tend to have a specific set of professionals that don’t offer anything unique and special. New faces will provide a fresh and unique perspective while helping to change the conversation in your company. By including people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and individuals with disabilities, your event will become all inclusive.
3. Make Your Virtual Event Stand Out
This has been one of the biggest challenges for virtual events, but luckily there are some ways to make it unique. With a bit of creativity in terms of the content and topics being discussed at the event, you can make it unique from other events happening around the same time. The diverse range of speakers will add uniqueness to your event.
4. Build A Safe Environment
Find ways to include practices in your event that can help build a safe environment at your event and ultimately workplace. Doing so is not just an essential aspect of physical events, but it is equally crucial for online ones. Your audience will likely not remember the speakers and their messages, but rather how they felt at the event. When you make people feel comfortable at your event, you would also be fostering their willingness to open up, share, and connect with others.
5. Use Inclusive Language
Another way to build a safer environment is by incorporating inclusive language in presenters' speeches and marketing and website content. At the same time, you should also avoid certain types of language. For example, avoid any language that is homophobic, sexist, racist, or transphobic. Though this may sound like a simple request, there are so many ways we have incorporated offensive terms in our daily language that they often go unnoticed. Hence you should make a conscious effort to avoid any such mishaps and ensure that none of your speakers have any slip-ups during their speeches as well.
Prior to the event, virtual event planners should create a code of conduct that is to be followed by all speakers and attendees. Ensure that this is thoroughly communicated to them and let them know that you will not be tolerating any hate speech or bigotry because you want to build a safe and inclusive environment for all employees.
6. Enhance Opportunities for Authentic Interactions
A helpful technique for virtual team building is to foster opportunities for all attendees to have authentic interactions and dialogues with each other during or after the event. Whether online or in-person, any successful event has plenty of these segments because these are key learning opportunities. For an online event, you can consider having break-out rooms where attendees can speak on a one-on-one basis or in small groups with speakers and professionals of their industry.
7. Make Your Event As Accessible As Possible
In order to have a more diverse and inclusive event, it should not just be catering to a wider, more diverse range of employees but also be accessible for them. This can be done by offering sign language services or closed captioning, if you have any attendees or employees with hearing disability. Moreover, not everyone can afford to have high-speed internet, so make sure you provide options for downloading or watching the event afterward. Other ways to make your event more accessible are via translations, large fonts on your website, and more. The creative events agency you hire will likely provide you with more ideas and help you execute all of these.
Doing all of this becomes particularly necessary if you are opening your event to the public.
8. Take Feedback
An essential aspect of inclusivity and diversity is to include everyone in your planning. This will also help you figure out what worked in your event and what you need to know focus more on. All in all, it will definitely help you build a more inclusive virtual event. Have your creative events agency include an interactive and short feedback form for all attendees at the end of the event.
--- Photo Credit: Unsplash.com
Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd, leading event company in Birmingham offering virtual events, corporate event management and venue finding services. She started her career in the events industry almost a decade ago as time progressed she became an avid event blogger sharing her insight on corporate event planning.