We are currently residing in the era of virtual events thanks to the immense development in technology paired with the COVID-10 pandemic. Virtual conference software programs have taken up the role of being our event venue as corporate travel plans were cancelled and digital meetings were planned.
However, regardless of whether you’re hosting in-person conferences or planning corporate virtual events, you need to take all the possible measures to ensure inclusivity and diversity. It’s the 21st century and we are no longer leaving anybody behind!
If you’ve been wondering how you can work with your corporate event planner to organize an inclusive conference that embraces people of all genders and ethnicities, you’re at the right place! Here are some excellent tips to create a diverse and welcoming space for all of your colleagues so they feel heard and valued. Let’s get right to it!
Tips to Organize an Inclusive Conference that Promotes Diversity
1. Build a Safe Environment
The psychological safety of all attendees should be your priority, even if you’re hosting your event over virtual conference software. Only when they’re comfortable and at ease will people want to speak up and share valuable feedback. They will also be more likely to network and form credibility for your business.
Among the most primary forms of bias is that we can’t see what we can’t see. Therefore, there could be something problematic or negative happening in the meeting that you simply don’t recognize. Accept the fact that everyone has certain unknown biases of their own and be open to feedback from the attendees. You’ll be surprised at what you come across!
Make sure that your employees have a private setting in which they can come to you for feedback. Ask them for their honest opinions and suggestions on how the meetings can be improved. Be sure to adopt an open, friendly and neutral stance while you’re taking feedback so people don’t feel too intimidated to raise concerns with you.
2. Appoint Conference Facilitators
Conference facilitators are key players in any form of conference; be it an in-house meeting or a corporate virtual event. They can be thought of as your meeting captains, ensuring decorum is maintained at all times and steering the event towards success.
Your conference facilitator or moderator should be attentive and empathetic at all times. They start the event by greeting everyone and breaking the ice, followed by ensuring that the conference is kept on track as per the agenda. It is also the facilitator’s responsibility to ensure smooth handovers, initiate meaningful discussions and manage the situation if things get heated up.
Having a dependable and compassionate conference facilitator is one of the best ways of creating an inclusive environment. It ensures all of the attendees feel empowered to share their opinions and creates a productive room for growth and improvement.
3. Ensure Remote Workers Get Plenty of Speak Time
Interacting directly with your employees and colleagues is one of the greatest benefits of any conference. This is especially true for virtual events since team members from across the globe can join in and offer their critique.
However, we can’t ignore the fact that virtual events are often unsuccessful in creating a sense of community. Attendees tend to limit themselves and their contributions, while in-person participants take centre stage.
You must keep in mind the fact that their employees were important enough to be invited, so they are important enough to have their presence acknowledged and fully included. These people are giving your their time, and that alone earns them equal respect and consideration as any in-person attendee.
Therefore, make sure there are plenty of check-in rounds throughout the meeting directed towards your virtual attendees. Make them a part of the social interactions and networking opportunities. Also, pause often and direct attention to their side. Request them to offer you feedback and solicit opinions from your remote participants. It shows them that their thoughts and opinions are valued, and they will be more likely to engage further on.
4. Create Alternate Forms of Communication
With workplaces becoming more culturally aware than ever, it is important to address a few issues. We need to start by acknowledging that confident people who don’t shy away from interjecting loudly and sharing their opinions naturally get more attention. Therefore, it is your responsibility to ensure proper channels are created to offer others a way to express their opinions as well.
Once you’ve provided attendants with an agenda for the meeting, they will be better prepared to communicate their thoughts. You can follow this through by incorporating alternate forms of communication into the conference over text, chat, video, etc.
You can also request your corporate event planners to include the following:
- Inviting attendees to speak up independently.
- Plan out pauses in-between the conference so people can gather their thoughts and communicate them comfortably.
- Allow text-based contributions in the form of a chatbox.
- Encourage participants to send their opening and closing thoughts through email.
5. Democratize the Discussions
Finally, you should work on democratizing all of the discussions held for better productivity. Throughout the conference, whenever there’s something to discuss, be sure to take into consideration everyone’s opinions – not just the two most outspoken attendees.
You can use meeting technology and take expert advice from a top creative events agency to ensure everyone feels empowered to contribute. If your conference is aimed at making important decisions, add a multiple-choice poll and let your teammates vote. There are numerous different ways in which you can ensure everyone’s opinions are considered for a more successful event.
Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd, a leading corporate event planner offering 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.