In an inclusive virtual event environment, people of all cultural orientations can freely express who they are, their own opinions, and points of view. They can fully participate in teaching, learning, work and social activities. feel safe from abuse, harassment or unfair criticism.
The dynamics for inclusivity at virtual events are quite similar to those for in-person events. However, you can ensure that your next online event is inclusive, diverse, and open by following these simple guidelines.
Build a Diverse Event Organizing Team
The way to inclusivity begins at your company. The prevalent culture at your company is reflected in the events you organize. This is why it is vital to foster an inclusive workplace culture. In particular, you must build a diverse team of organizers when planning an online event.
You can do so by ensuring that employees from different cultural and religious backgrounds, genders, age groups, and ability levels are included as organizers. This will help you plan out an event that is informed by a diverse and rich set of experiences.
A diverse organizing team will help you craft an event that truly appeals to a larger target audience. This can play a key role in making your next online event a smashing success.
Create a Diverse Panel of Speakers
When trying to make an event inclusive, you are essentially aiming to create an experience that will resonate with people from various backgrounds. A diverse panel of speakers can be immensely helpful in achieving this.
You can include people from various industries, have speakers from multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds, and even invite panelists with disabilities for inspiration. This will not only make your event appear more inclusive, but it will also add fresh perspectives and unique insights.
Promote Audience Interactions
Audience interactions are the key to a successful virtual event. Many poorly planned online events overlook this vital aspect.
You can plan virtual break-out rooms, virtual one-on-one booths, and chat rooms to make sure your virtual audience interacts with each other. Participants can benefit from the experiences and views of each other, as well as those of the speakers.
You can structure the online event so that such interactions are positioned at the end of each session, or as a separate session towards the end of the event. The opportunity to interact with each other and the speakers will make your event more inclusive for all attendees.
Partner with the Right Sponsors
The choice of sponsors for your online event is an important decision. One sponsor may make your event look like an exclusive affair. Another may create a mass appeal for the event by making it appear more inclusive.
You should explore sponsors who have an established reputation for promoting equal rights and inclusivity. The sponsors also stand to benefit from visibility at the inclusive event you are planning. With the right sponsors, your event’s branding and marketing efforts may receive a major boost and tap into your target audience.
Use Tiered Payment Options
The potential attendees of your virtual event likely comprise people from different financial backgrounds. This means that if you set a single ticket price for the event, many may not be able to afford it. This can impact your efforts to make the event more inclusive.
You can resolve this problem by creating tiered payment options. You can, for instance, create a student plan for any students who want to attend, or attract academics with a special discount offer.
You can also offer multiple payment options with different levels of access to the sessions. A basic, low-cost ticket can allow attendance of events but limited interaction. A higher-paid, premium access ticket can be bundled with one-on-one interaction with star speakers. This will make the event relevant and attractive for your potential participants.
Offer a Welcoming Virtual Event Registration Process
When your potential attendees get in touch to register for your virtual event, this is your chance to make a great first impression. You must use welcoming and inclusive language during the sign-up process. Any marketing or promotional media displayed at this stage should feature individuals from diverse backgrounds.
This creates a solid impression that you are aiming for an inclusive event. A good impression may also prompt word-of-mouth marketing for your event, attracting more sign-ups and creating an exponential effect.
Create a Safe Environment
Safety is a primary concern at physical events but virtual event organizers often tend to overlook it. You need to carefully plan your online event to ensure that a safe environment exists for the attendees.
This involves protecting the personal data of the customers and ensuring real-time moderation of the live chat rooms. Although interactivity is a cornerstone for virtual events, any interactions that take place must be monitored to prevent trolling, abusive language, harassment, and other issues.
Optimize for Accessibility
A highly effective way of making your virtual event inclusive is to improve its accessibility. Depending on your target audience, you may have participants who have disabilities, hail from diverse geographical locations, or can’t access the event on a high-speed internet connection. You can cater to these audiences by implementing the following measures:
- Make sure that your virtual conference platform supports adaptive bit rate streaming so that low-speed internet connections are supported without impacting faster connections
- Make content available for download before or after the virtual event
- Provide real-time translations in multiple languages
- Provide closed captioning as well as audio for attendees with disabilities
- The virtual event platform should be WCAG and ADA Compliant including support for screen readers, the ability for attendees to adjust the text size, adjust contrasts, etc.
The larger the scope of your target audience, the more important it is to implement these measures. More accessibility automatically results in more inclusivity and also improves the overall quality of your virtual event for the attendees.
Make sure to gather feedback from the attendees as well as the organizing team after the event. This feedback is immensely useful in helping you gauge what works and where improvements are needed.
In addition, you should carefully craft the questions for the feedback form. These must include the feedback of your stakeholders regarding the inclusivity of the event. Ask the respondents whether or not they thought the event was sufficiently inclusive, and what measures could be taken to improve inclusivity.
Finally, you can also send out the survey to guest speakers, presenters, and sponsors. The feedback you receive will be immensely helpful in improving the quality of future events and ensuring that any further virtual events you organize are more inclusive.
Designing and planning inclusive virtual events is not a small task. You need to put some serious effort into it. It is also an ongoing process so that each online event you organize becomes more inclusive if you are doing it right.
The key is to make a clear decision that you want to organize a virtual event that is as inclusive as possible. This must then be reflected in the diversity of your event organizers, panelists, and promotional and marketing materials.