Our world has undergone many changes in the past decade. One of the most important is the need for acceptance, empathy, and inclusivity! This should extend to your event strategy as well. But it should not be a simple checklist. It must be intentional, well thought out, and spark meaningful change. This is not a fad, it’s not a passing trend, it’s a way to treat others the way you want to be treated and ensure that our world is more accepting of one another for a brighter future. This means including diverse races, ages, physical abilities, education levels, economic classes, and more. Everyone should be welcome and feel welcome once they arrive on-site for your event. Today, we’re going to share a few tried and true tips for producing inclusive events that create impact and engage!
Choose an Inclusive Destination & Venue
If you’re hosting a live, in-person event, inclusivity begins with your destination and venue.
For example, don’t choose historic venues without an elevator for a dinner event or select a conference facility without ramp access (although most locations are required to have this per the ADA). For destination selection, review a list of LGBTQ+-friendly destinations from the IGLTA.
Ensure Your Marketing is Indicative of Your Audience
The imagery and words you use in your event marketing campaigns matter when producing inclusive events.
So, what does this mean exactly?
Well, when it comes to the words you use, consider using gender-neutral terminology and avoid exclusive language that may exude sexism, racism, homophobia, or transphobia. Here’s a great guide that you can use if you’re wondering how to execute this effectively and intentionally!
For imagery, ensure you use diverse individuals to portray what people will experience at your event!
Incorporate Speakers from Diverse Backgrounds
Author of The Diversity Advantage and inclusion strategist, Ruchika Tulshyan shares her thoughts, stating:
“I find it a waste of time to attend a conference where I won’t learn from a wide variety of expertise, views, and experiences.”
And she isn’t wrong. We learn and grow from absorbing the unique opinions, technical know-how, and life experiences of others! Ensure your speaker lineup reflects that.
ASK Attendees What They Need to Be Accommodated
During your registration process, add in questions that can be answered to address necessary disability accommodations. Add a checklist like the one below from Cornell University, with a space for them to add additional accommodations and provide the planner or admin’s contact details. This way, they feel that they can reach out to them separately for more detail.
I will need the following accommodations in order to participate:
- Assistive listening device
- Sign language interpreter
- Presentation captioning
- Reserved seating with wheelchair access
- Large print
- An advance copy of slides to be projected
- Wheelchair access
- Service animal approval
- Wheelchair access to working tables throughout the room
- Lactation room
- Gender-neutral bathroom
- Diet Restrictions (i.e. celiac, vegan, etc.) List: __________________
- Other: _____________________________
You can also preface this question with a statement like:
We aim to cultivate events that are inclusive and accessible for all attendees to engage fully. To request additional accommodation on-site, please contact [name], [title], [email].
Similarly, in your post-event survey, you should ask attendees for their honest feedback. Inquire with them to see if they felt included and what they think can be improved for future events!
Adequately Prepare Your Team, Volunteers, and Speakers
With these answers and responses, you then must ensure you take action. You cannot just forget the requests and requirements, thinking that asking was sufficient. Compile all the required accommodations in one single document shared with all department heads, speakers, etc.
If an individual has requested slides in advance or if there will be a sign language interpreter in a session, speakers must have that information so that they too can prepare accordingly and act in an inclusive way. That might mean adding more words to the slides, slowing down their speaking pace to allow time for translation, describing imagery on slides as required, allowing recording so that it can be close-captioned and provided for those who need it post-event, etc.
Examine Your Team & Vendors
Inclusive events aren’t just about how you’re hosting on-site and who is speaking. It’s about who is helping you produce and execute the event as well. Support women-owned and minority-owned businesses to plan your events, design your booths, create your pre-event mailers, and more.
Beyond that, ensure your advisory board, planning team, and group of volunteers are just as diverse as the audience you’re looking to attract.
Want to Host Inclusive Events, But Worried You’re Not Quite There? Let Us Assist.
Whether you’re hosting a virtual or live event, inclusivity is always important. These tips are just the beginning of what you must do to host an inclusive event. There’s more that goes into being inclusive than meets the eye!
For years, Eventistry by Alecia has been helping businesses produce inclusive events across the globe (and the world wide web). Let us help you make all your attendees feel seen, heard, and engaged with an intentionally planned inclusive event strategy!