In the world of events, communication is key. Whether you’re organising a glamorous awards ceremony or a three-day tech conference, it’s crucial to ensure that everyone knows what to expect so they can join in and benefit fully.
One often-overlooked aspect of achieving this inclusivity is the joining instructions. These play a critical role in making your event open and accessible to all.
Crafting clear and inclusive joining instructions is a bit of an art. We received positive feedback for the instructions we provided for a recent event. Which inspired us to share what we’ve learned about joining instructions that stand out from the crowd.
1. A road map to your event
Joining instructions do more than just guide people to the event on time; they shape the entire event experience. They provide essential details about how to arrive, what to look forward to, and how to participate actively.
In addition to crucial logistical info like the date, time, and location, they should also reveal specifics like the event schedule, running times, when breaks occur, and any necessary preparations to help attendees get the most out of the day.
2. Accessibility matters
As well as a road map, they set the tone for the whole event. And widening the welcome mat with clear and inclusive instructions signal to everyone that your event is open to all.
When people see that you’ve considered their needs, they’re more likely to feel welcome and valued so be clear about accessibility.
Go beyond just providing transport links and look at how accessible the closest stations are. Are there bike spots, parking and blue badge spaces that your guests can use? Let them know.
Include information on step free access, lift access, whether toilets are changing places, and whether they are gender neutral or not.
And if your events are live, online or hybrid, confirm that live captions and BSL interpretation will be available and give links if the audience are able to connect from their own devices.
3. Be simple and specific
We know it pays to use clear, jargon-free language that everyone can understand. Avoid acronyms and technical terms that might confuse some people. We also like to get specific. Detailed instructions help participants prepare adequately, leading to more informed and engaged attendees.
So, rather than just saying that food will be served and taking dietary restrictions, give your guests examples of some of the dishes your catering team are preparing, what snacks will be available, or what non-alcoholic drink options you’ll have at dinner.
4. Include some personality
As well as providing a full picture, this detail also gives a flavour of the event and your instructions some personality. We like to include some examples of what people might be wearing, as well as a dress code, to help those who don’t understand what a general term like ‘business casual’ means or might have some concerns about interpreting it correctly. For example:
This is a friendly and welcoming space. Come ready to celebrate, in whatever you feel comfortable in. Here are some examples:
- Catherine will be wearing a black jumpsuit, with gold sparkly shoes
- Adam is wearing a blue jacket and cowboy boots
When everyone knows what to expect, they can show up confidently as their authentic selves and contribute to the fullest.
5. Alleviate anxiety
Participants can feel anxious about attending new events or visiting new buildings. Clear joining instructions should help alleviate some of this anxiety by answering questions upfront, making the whole experience less daunting. We like to include a short film in our joining instructions, which ‘walks’ a viewer from the front door of the building to the reception desk and into and space where the event is taking place.
Make it clear too, what quiet spaces you’ll have available for guests who want to take some time out of the main event room, or to decompress. This can be particularly useful for neurodiverse delegates who can be overstimulated by flashing lights, loud music or crowded rooms.
6. Empower your audience
Inclusive instructions empower participants by providing the information they need to make informed choices. When people know what’s coming, they can decide if the event is right for them.
If there is time for questions invite delegates to share them in advance, if you’re happy to share slides along with joining instructions, do.
And let participants know that they can reach out with questions or specific requests in advance of the event. This shows you’re open to individual needs and willing to accommodate them.
Devilishly good instructions make all the difference
Inclusive joining instructions are not just about logistics; they’re about building a welcoming, accessible, and empowering experience for all participants. When people know what to expect and feel that their needs are considered, they can fully engage and contribute to the success of your event. So, remember, the devil is in the details, and in this case, those details matter immensely. Make your joining instructions clear and inclusive, and you’ll see the positive impact on your events and participants.