Both hybrid and virtual events are here to stay in the long run. They have become a necessary component of most event organisers’ business plans. In fact, 70% of event organisers intend to continue hosting hybrid or virtual events after the COVID-19 restrictions end.
The shift to virtual events has simplified many aspects of event hosting, such as reaching out to communities all over the world and promoting accessibility, allowing people who might not be able to attend in-person events to connect, learn, and share their experiences. The significance of diversity, sustainability and social inclusion are clear. The industry data supports this, with seven event creators out of ten having already developed a program or policy related to inclusion and diversity.
Hence, the key question on the minds of many event organisers is: how do you make an online event more inclusive?
Here are 3 ways to do it:
Eliminating obstacles for hybrid and virtual events can be tricky as it relies on technology. Closed captions, for example, are an excellent way to make your event accessible to those who are hard of hearing or deaf. There are numerous tools available to generate them automatically; for instance, Otter.io and Rev.
Using platforms that most people are already familiar with, such as Instagram, Facebook Live or YouTube, is another way to make your event more inclusive. This means that people with limited technical knowledge will not have to worry about installing new software. If you do decide to use a less familiar platform, send out step-by-step instructions well in advance of the event so that attendees know how to access the stream on the day of the event.
Making participation optional
Asking people to turn on their webcams and microphones may appear to be a good way to create atmosphere, but this can be problematic for a variety of reasons – acknowledging the very real and recent phenomenon that is Zoom/Teams Anxiety. Some people may suffer from social anxiety, others from speech impairments, and still others may be unable to afford a fast internet connection. One suggestion is to make participation optional and keep the chat box open for those who would rather type than speak.
Make recordings available for those who are unable to attend
One significant advantage of online events is the ability to record and distribute content to attendees afterwards. People may need to miss events for a variety of reasons – they could be suffering from poor mental health and no longer have the ability to attend. Making the content available later ensures that they can access it at any time.
Working towards fully diverse and inclusive events is an ongoing job. You can fulfil different needs during these events through the mentioned ways as there are no venue limitations to consider.
The first step in making attendees during a hybrid or virtual event is to represent and reflect them – not only in marketing materials but also in technology teams. An audience that feels heard and seen will be more likely to connect with your brand. Speak to us today if you would like to make your event more inclusive!