The one key factor that constitutes a great virtual event, albeit often neglected, is one that accommodates every audience member.
This content is sponsored by Hubilo.
Online events provide an opportunity to include more voices and to reach out to people who may otherwise not have the opportunity or ability to attend your in-person event.
So, in many ways, they are more inclusive – from a travel and cost-saving point of view. However, as an event organizer, the physical and psychological comfort of your attendees needs to be considered as well. Everyone must feel included for them to gain the full virtual event experience you plan to provide.
To ensure this, here are some of the best practices you can follow:
1. When planning your agenda, make sure to add sufficient break time. This will especially allow people with learning disabilities to process the information and for everyone to voice their queries and thoughts.
2. Make sure all the images used at the virtual event, from the invitation mailers to sponsored banners placed across the virtual event platform, have alt text. This will enable attendees who use screen readers to comprehend your message.
3. In your pre-event email communication, include an accessibility checklist to gauge any special requirements that your attendees might have, such as session interpretation in a particular language or live captioning.
4. Prior to the event date, send out a detailed guide with images and instructions on how your attendees can log in and find their way around the virtual event platform. Supplement it with an introductory video.
5. Build a diverse team for event planning and execution, ranging from people of different genders, age groups, and cultures to those who have varied physical/mental abilities and disabilities. This helps to bring a healthy assortment of perspectives to the table, and also makes your audience feel more represented.
6. If your event is paid, offer differently priced registration tiers to make it accessible for people with diverse economic statuses.
7. Facilitate your attendees with a mobile version of the virtual event platform, so they can access your event from any location with a smaller internet bandwidth.
8. Include a nice mix of gamification activities across the event to allow your attendees to pick those they are comfortable participating in.
9. Ask your speakers to design inclusive presentations with a clear structure, font, and visual elements. Also, guide them on how they can deliver their presentations to cater to the needs of the diverse audience. Something as simple as reading out polls, comments, and questions ensures everyone can understand the context of the discussion.
10. Ensure that your virtual event platform is compatible with assistive technology, such as a real-time interpretation service and live captioning.
11. Collect continuous event feedback via session and general survey popups to understand what attendees about the accessibility practices they encountered at the event and whether it truly helped to make your event diverse and inclusive.
Designing an event where all your attendees feel included requires asking yourself some tough questions and then making the effort to resolve any gaps.
But what’s even more important is that you adopt a human-centric approach, remain intentional about your goals, keep accessibility at the forefront of your planning process, invest in a reliable virtual event platform, and take feedback from your attendees at every step of the way.
And believe me, sooner or later your attendees will take notice – even if you make the slightest effort.
Author Bio: Falguni Jain is a content marketer for Hubilo, a virtual and hybrid event platform with notable global clients that include the UN, Siemens, GITEX, NYU, AWS and Tech in Asia.