If you’re like most meeting and event organisers, you’ve produced at least one in-person event with virtual elements since March 2020. After the pandemic, some of your peers may say it’s a scenario they’ve become more comfortable with, but for some it’s still a complicated landscape. At Encore, we’re thrilled to see that in-person meetings are back. However, we also believe that the integration of virtual elements in events is exciting for three very big reasons we think you’ll appreciate too.
Reason No. 1: Diversity
Have you ever heard that quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”? If you want breakthrough ideas, you need to convene with people who represent diverse backgrounds, education and economic levels, cultural perspectives, and abilities. Only then will you be able to arrive at opinions, conclusions, and solutions that are truly different. In this era of disruptive change, diversity is a core strength that every event should foster. And adding virtual elements to in-person experiences is the best way to open the door to wider, more diverse audiences than you’ve hosted in the past. Think about it. If the only place someone can experience your event is in real time, in a physical venue, then you may lose:
- People who can’t afford to travel
- People who can’t take time away from the office
- Caregivers who can’t disentangle from family obligations
- People in far-flung places who are under travel restrictions
Providing an option to take part in your event in-remote breaks down these barriers and brings you new audiences. This sets the stage for more diverse conversations, collaborations and innovation.
Reason No. 2: Equity
Great meeting and event organisers know how important it is to design events with their participants’ needs in mind. Even so, many forget to think about attendees who have mobility issues, or who may have other physical or mental challenges that create barriers to enjoying face-to-face events. Whether it’s a temporary disability, like recovering from a hip replacement, or a permanent one, people who are differently abled often can’t enjoy your event in the same way people without those challenges can.
Don’t believe us? Imagine what it’s like to be on crutches and having to balance a plate of hors d’oeuvres with a drink. Or trying to navigate through a crowded room in a wheelchair. Or how stressful it is to not have anything on the buffet you know is safe to eat. Or be asked to pay full price for your translator or caretaker to accompany you. All these things erode enjoyment of your face-to-face event because, although you are treating everyone equally, you can’t provide an experience that everyone can enjoy in the same way.
In contrast, virtual elements in events can create a more equitable environment for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy themselves.
Reason No. 3: Inclusion
Another saying we love is from Verna Myers, a leading diversity and inclusion expert: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
In-person events can overwhelm people who aren’t comfortable being in crowds. That audience has widened during the pandemic to include not only introverts, but also people who are worried about health risks, and those who haven’t left their house in more than two years.
When you include a virtual option in your in-person event, you’re able to meet people where they are. If they’re comfortable traveling, giving hugs and dancing, then you’re providing them an experience on-site. But if those activities deter them from joining, and you create digital experiences, you’re allowing them to connect, share and grow with others in their own way.
And when you have an event experience that is accessible where everyone feels heard, seen and included, that’s something to celebrate.
What are the reasons you enjoy virtual elements in events? Share your thoughts with us by tagging us on social media.
And if you would like to learn more about what role diversity, equity and inclusion play at Encore, have a look here.
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