Expanding the Definition of Diverse and Inclusive Virtual Events

Diverse and inclusive virtual events create an experience that supports everyone in attendance. Consider these four areas in your event planning.

Conferences, seminars, sales kick-offs, all-hands meetings, and other events bring groups of people together to discover new voices, gain professional development, and consider different perspectives.

For these reasons, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have become essential elements of today’s event strategies – especially virtual events. The right DEI initiatives have the power to make meetings and events better (and safer) places to be.

When thinking about diversity and inclusion for virtual events, consider how to create an experience that supports everyone in attendance – no matter a person’s abilities, age, race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

In that light, here are four areas to expand your virtual event diversity and inclusion planning:



Diversity and inclusion start behind the scenes, where an event planning team that represents different backgrounds, opinions, ideas, perspectives, and networks can reduce unconscious bias when planning event content.

When devising the agenda, choose topics that speak to and directly impact your diverse audience. For example:

  • Allow attendees to share their insights, such as by adding a link on your event website where attendees can submit a form with their ideas.
  • Choose diverse perspectives on a single topic to challenge attendees’ attitudes, ideas, and beliefs.
  • Offer different learning options, like panels, fireside chats, roundtables, and small-group activities to appeal to different learning preferences, abilities, personalities, and health needs.
  • Include the option to choose learning preferences on your event registration form and use the data to shape the agenda format.
  • Offer sufficient breaks throughout the agenda to reduce cognitive load. This especially allows those who are neurodivergent or people with learning disabilities time to process the information.

When we talk about inclusive content for virtual events, don’t forget other considerations, including:

  • Becoming familiar with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which helps to ensure those with motor difficulties or visual impairments can still access and experience your event content.
  • Allowing participants to request accommodations, such as sign language translation, closed captions, audio transcripts, or session recordings. (Alternatively, communicate what accommodations will be provided during your event.)
  • Ensuring all event videos have captions, transcripts, and language translation options.
  • Considering introvert-friendly networking options for those who feel overwhelmed by striking up a conversation with strangers. For instance, make networking more inclusive by including options through your event app leading up to and throughout the event.
  • Establishing an official code of conduct for everyone associated with the event, such as this great example.



For virtual events, if an attendee loses their registration link, you may lose their presence overall. When planning an inclusive virtual event, look to reduce as many entry barriers as possible from registration and attendance perspectives. For example, consider using a platform like Evenium’s ConnexMe that doesn’t require downloading special software and can be accessed through any browser.

If your virtual event has a global reach, languages – whether different spoken languages or captions, are also an essential inclusive consideration. Look for a platform that allows real-time capabilities to provide every participant with the event slides and audio in their language.

And in some parts of the world, high-speed internet may not be widely available, making it hard for attendees to load complex or graphics-intensive virtual event platforms. So instead, offer attendees a browser-based version of the virtual event platform that can be accessed from any location with a smaller internet bandwidth.

Don’t forget that inclusivity at events isn’t always physical. It can also be economical. Some people might want to attend your paid virtual event, but it might be beyond their means. For example, make your event more inclusive to people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds by offering scholarships – either completely free, underwritten by a sponsor, or at a reduced price.

You can also offer attendees different payment methods, whether in their native currency or the flexibility to pay for registration over time in smaller monthly payments.



As the most outward-facing aspect of your event, speakers are crucial to demonstrating your commitment to diversity and inclusion. An audience that does not feel represented likely won’t register for or return to your event.

When selecting speakers, consider the following:

  • Making it a priority to balance speakers, moderators, and panelists regarding gender, race, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, religion, age, and other characteristics. Your speaker lineup should be as diverse as the audience your event is reaching.
  • Choosing diverse speakers with fresh – or even conflicting – viewpoints on business trends, social justice, workplace culture, and more. Don’t limit speakers to speak on diversity and inclusion topics alone. Instead, bring in their diverse perspectives on leadership, innovation, technology, or other trending and insightful topics.
  • Working with speakers from various socioeconomic backgrounds and a mix of established, well-known speakers and those building a name for themselves.

Other speaker best practices for virtual events include:

  • Reminding that they, too, play a part in creating inclusive event experiences. Speakers, moderators, and panelists must keep panel discussions appropriate and civil while ensuring all voices are heard in a professional manner.
  • Displaying speakers’ preferred pronouns in bios or digital title cards.
  • Providing a verbal description during each introduction, such as describing a speaker’s physical characteristics, surroundings, and other interesting facts. This allows those with visual impairments to learn key visual features about each presenter, like how a sighted person might remember someone by their statement necklace or unique hairstyle.
  • Briefly stating the speaker’s name when switching between presenters and before talking, helping those with visual impairments know who is speaking rather than relying on the sound of voices alone.
  • Providing content warnings if a presentation includes flashing lights, rapidly-transitioning imagery, or anything considered a triggering subject.
  • Refraining from phrases like “As you see here.” If a speaker shares an important graph or chart, they should verbally describe the critical information in the image, like general trends, names of data groups, etc. Speakers should also summarize onscreen text because not everyone can read and listen simultaneously.


Marketing and promotion

Your promotional materials, event website, emails, and social media posts should represent the diverse and inclusive efforts you’ve worked so hard to include – both in imagery and the words used.

When it comes to imagery, are the materials diverse and inclusive? Do they reflect your diverse audience, speakers, and content? Are there photos of people from different backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities? For example, in emails or social posts, pay careful attention to highlighting the diversity of sessions – not inadvertently featuring the stereotypical event “manel.”

Use an inclusive approach in communications by:

  • Using person-first language, emphasizing the individual as the essential element, and respectful language when asking about needed accommodations or referring to individuals with disabilities.
  • Adding options for name pronunciation and pronouns to your registration form.
  • Offering multilingual text based on audience demographics.
  • Asking questions about preferred communication style (i.e., email, text, automated phone call) and offer information in both audio and written formats.
  • Distributing language guides to educate the event team and speakers about inclusivity and words and phrases to avoid.
  • Communicating that your event is an inclusive space. Clearly convey discriminatory behavior will not be tolerated and state the consequences of this behavior and the actions you’ll take should it occur.

Prioritizing diversity and inclusion can go a long way toward creating more welcoming events for all event attendees and participants. But remember, DEI is a journey, and there is always room for improvement.


If you’re looking for a robust set of collaboration tools that help facilitate inclusive audience engagement and discussions, sign up for a demo of ConnexMe!

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