Think about the last time you went to the theater to watch a movie.
You probably went in, sat down, dutifully put your phone away (we hope), looked up at the big screen, and enjoyed the show. A simple and easy experience.
Now consider the POV of someone who goes into the theater to watch the same movie but is hard of hearing, or who speaks a completely different language than that shown in the theater. It would be a completely different, more difficult and exclusionary experience.
Why should you care about this?
One of the biggest benefits of virtual events is that as an organizer, you are no longer hampered by geography. There’s no need to worry about factoring in travel for attendees or speakers, or being constrained by venue capacity when you’re hosting a virtual event. This means that people from all over the world can attend, and where previously you might have been able to host only 1000 people at an in-person event, you can now reach tens of thousands.
But with great capability comes great responsibility.
You now need to ensure that each of your tens of thousands of attendees has an equally amazing experience at your event, whether that’s a virtual conference, company offsite, virtual office, ora virtual tradeshow. And central to this is ensuring that each person - from different countries and diverse backgrounds - can actively participate, contribute to discussions, and have equitable opportunities.
But this isn’t without its challenges.
When planning virtual experiences for constituents, organizers may fall prey to an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality. No longer being able to ‘see’ the needs and requirements for different types of attendees can make it harder to address them.
And this is definitely an issue when one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. In the United States alone, the Centers for Disease Control notes that: 61 million adults – or 1 in 4 – people live with a disability. These statistics alone makes leading with accessibility and inclusivity the mentality to have as a hybrid or virtual event organizer.
Attendees from different backgrounds or with disabilities will want to consume your content, ask questions to speakers, chat and interact with their fellow attendees - just like everyone else. This means that you not only need to be purposeful and empathetic in the way you organize your event and present your content, but that the virtual event platform partner you work with needs to be able to be fully accessible and inclusive - it needs to put all attendees on an equal footing.
The good news: Zuddl makes your virtual event more accessible and inclusive!
Central to hosting a virtual event is making sure the content of your event can be understood by all your attendees. This is especially important when it comes to live sessions or recorded video that you or your speakers are sharing during the event. But, as illustrated by the movie theater example, if attendees at virtual meetings are non-native speakers or are hard of hearing, they may find it difficult to follow along and stay engaged.
This is where Zuddl can make a difference.
Multilingual audio support
The reality is that not everybody can speak English or speak it well. So if you have people joining the virtual meeting from France, Finland and Fiji, using multilingual audio support is a great way to ensure that all attendees will still be able to understand speakers and the content that is being presented, which in turn helps to create a more inclusive, egalitarian virtual space.
This, of course, is especially important for companies with remote, multilingual teams. When hosting virtual company offsites, sales kickoffs, company meetings or any other internal events, multilingual audio support can help non-native speakers to better comprehend and retain information, and feel more connected to the workforce.
It makes business sense too.
According to a survey conducted by the Common Sense Advisory, a market research firm, 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language. The same piece of research states that 72% of consumers are more likely to buy a product that is offered to them in their own language. Need we say more?
Live captioning works hand-in-hand with multilingual audio support. This results in a real-time visual aid that helps attendees at your event better decipher what’s being said on-screen.
The feature helps to improve accessibility for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, but can be useful for everyone, including those who join the live event late, or who are multitasking during the event.
This is useful when you’re hosting a virtual meeting for your company or team as giving employees the option to read-along live captions in their native language makes it simpler to absorb information and therefore increase focus and engagement. In fact, 80% of consumers are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available.
Protip: Make presentations and video sessions available for attendees to watch after the event is over. This way they can revisit the information shared as per their convenience and make sure they don’t miss what was shared during a meeting.
Chat function and Emoji Reactions
The use of live chat and emoji reactions at your event gives your attendees the freedom to interact with and react to speakers and content shared as per their convenience, and it means there is equal opportunity to ‘speak’ and ask questions. For those who find written language a bit restrictive, they can easily express themselves through an easy emoji reaction.
To sum up…
Virtual and hybrid events are only as inclusive as they’re made to be; while event platform partners like Zuddl can make a great difference, creating spaces and experiences that make everyone feel welcomed and valued needs to be an active effort on the part of organizers. Talk to our team today to learn how to get it right!