Planning & Promotion

Enable Next-era Facilitation With Inclusive Event Engagement

Eventually Learning Team

“Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work.” – Andres Tapia

Every event professional has a different style of planning engagement around their event. Considering varied attendee personas is the first step in planning engagement. For Sam, an informal discussion could fuel his creativity, and for Jules, it could be a more structured networking approach. The biggest bellyache for event marketers and attendees is " insufficient engagement!" So, to end the fuss about poor engagement and networking, try offering many participation methods to attendees. In doing so, you understand which approaches the audiences prefer, helping you power inclusive event engagement.

Let’s see how you can facilitate collaborations and discussions by planning engagement for different personality makeups at your event!

Is Inclusive Event Planning the Keystone to Better Outcomes?

How often have you encountered a phenomenon where a woman speaker is brought in to balance the all-men session panel? Or a person of color is introduced as a diverse speaker to keep up appearances on social media? Well, this window-dressing defeats the purpose of inclusivity and long-term success. For inclusion means more than just participation.

At Canadian Tech @ Scale in 2018, Sarah Kaplan, Director at the Institute for Gender and the Economy, presented a talk on the business case for diversity and inclusion. I heard her talk about how you can build a more diverse team to achieve specific goals. Sarah presented a unique perspective on inclusivity and said gender quota in the makeup of a team leads to better outcomes and change. Not only this, but a McKinsey report reveals that 366 companies featured in the top quartile for gender inclusion were 15% more likely to generate returns above their industry mean!

What does this mean for events?

Inclusive events will capture and boost your high-rolling streak on executing perfect engagement and networking. However, if you want to see a more nuanced benefit of inclusive events, consider this:

You have organized an event that features women and men in AI, Machine Learning and Cloud. Let's say Speaker A is Susan, and she wants to speak on the challenges she navigated as a woman to become a successful business professional and event speaker in tech. Now, as an organizer, let's say you have decided to organize an all-women networking coffee break after Susan's session. What's the result? Attendees and other women entrepreneurs at the event will feel inspired by Susan's keynote and extend their business collaborations to other like-minded women peers. In doing so, your event becomes a medium and the core facilitator for change, diversity and inclusion.

Pro-tip: Hiring women, neuroinclusive and LGBTQ event team members will portray your company in a shining light where all people and genders are treated equally. Highlighting your inclusive hires, activities, events and engagement efforts on social media will surely get your events more traction.

Event Engagement Strategies for Introverts and Extroverts

We all remember Michael Scott from The Office asking Oscar Nunez, his Mexican colleague, if he preferred something less offensive than Mexican. What a disaster! So, to avoid a 'Michael Scott' situation at your event, ask your attendees beforehand about their preferred pronouns and inclinations. To edge forward with inclusive event engagement, you can try mapping how attendees at your event would prefer to go forth with participation activities.

What Should Event Engagement Be Like for Introverts?

Don’t overlook personality types before planning engagement activities! Many attendees will find crowds and conversations stressful. So, try to be exclusive if you want to be inclusive. Plan an ideal pre-event networking session through your event app to break the ice and let introverts mingle. Think about this; the quiet and reserved attendees would not jump in at any chance to grab the mic and shine in the spotlight.

For example, Splashthat's Escape from Virtual series asked attendees to select their favorite sense from the five senses and write it on their name tags. Later, attendees with similar sense preferences paired up and enjoyed intimate networking. For breakout sessions, you can exclude extroverted activities like roleplaying, dance and singing. Instead, introverted art forms like painting, visualization, meditation and drawing can help introverts outshine. Give them space to work in silos, and don't force introverts to share their output with others at the event.

Pro-tip: It’s not like introverts don't like to be around extrovert event attendees. As an organizer, you must avoid creating situations that place introverts in the bustle of every activity.

How Does Event Engagement Work for Extroverts?

Most extroverts would like to network in a space where they can open up, lead conversations and make connections on the go. Also, extroverts tend to be more comfortable in settings that promote social stimulation. So, even with a diverse mix of audiences, you can plan big-group interactions for the extroverted fellas! Since extroverts are easy to spot, you can appoint them as group leaders during social hours or networking to enable business discussions, knowledge exchange and collaborations. Let them act on their natural inclinations to lead conversations and excite the crowd.

For example, you can plan a ‘Success Stories’ session over coffee or cocktails where extroverted event attendees could exchange their personal and professional growth stories and industry best practices to network with the crowd. Be it offering direct feedback or brainstorming for creativity and innovation, extroverts are sure to thrive in each setting!

Wrapping Up

If you wish to increase the likelihood of successful implementations of ideas and perspectives through public programming, inclusive events should be Plan A for you! Crafting an event agenda and scheduling engagement activities is a complex endeavor. Here are some tell-all tips for nailing inclusive event engagement:
  • Focus on audio and visual content
  • Plan kinesthetic activities to promote physical engagement
  • Mix up different mediums to eliminate any slip-ups leading to boredom
We hope your next event will be a powerful delivery of inclusive event engagement!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you build a solid internal diverse event team?

To come up with diverse perspectives and ideas, you need event volunteers and team members from different demographics. Show the entire world that your diversity isn't just for show! Direct your hiring professionals to work out strategies to hire diverse suppliers, speakers, volunteers, managers and sponsors.

Can event catering be inclusive to promote engagement?

Sometimes, your event's food menu reflects your own choices. To be inclusive and accommodate the food preferences of all attendees, you must consider all the parameters mentioned below:
  • Religion – halal meats and kosher food
  • Health – avoiding allergen food items like nuts, lactose and gluten
  • Lifestyle & Environment – Vegan, Vegetarian or lactose-free food

Does accessibility play an important role in event engagement?

Making your event accessible plays an essential role in inclusive event planning. To make sure your event is enjoyable for all, you can:
  • Hire a sign-language interpreter
  • Enable live translation and captioning for your virtual events
  • Host your event in a wheelchair-accessible venue
  • Design an accessible event website
  • Focus on designing neuroinclusive content
  • Choose words and gender pronouns with dignity.

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