What makes an event inviting? Take a minute to think of a place where you felt welcome… what made you feel that way? Share your favorite welcoming experiences here.
A friendly person greeting new arrivals can make any space feel inviting. A participant may feel welcome and comfortable when it’s easy for them to find the information, activity, or person(s) they are seeking. It might be that event materials and content are presented in a language they speak, and free of jargon or insider terminology. It might be how the space itself feels-- brightly lit, familiar, comfortable, safe.
Some of these elements— like good signage or a clear schedule posted somewhere visible—are straightforward. It may be difficult to imagine how you’d create other, more abstract elements, like a feeling of safety and respect among participants. Don’t worry-- we have a tool for that: Participation Guidelines!
As event organizers, you and your co-designers are responsible for setting the conditions for great event; your event’s participants will be collaborators in creating the tone and quality of interactions at the event. Their actions (whether positive, constructive and generous or otherwise) are a key ingredient. A set of Participation Guidelines, shared with all in advance, and posted clearly in the space, tells participants how they’re expected to behave and interact with others at the event.
For example Mozilla’s Community Participation Guidelines is not just a list of prohibited behaviors. It begins with a list of encouraged, positive behaviors, and a statement that everyone is welcome. You’re welcome to re-use or remix these Guidelines, adding any special information or norms that are particular to your communities and circumstances.
As event organizers and hosts, you and your team are responsible for addressing any behaviors that are outside of the guidelines. Before the event you should decide who will be the designated person to hear and address complaints or incidents, and you should have a plan for how to respond. These processes should be designed and agreed upon by your team, according to the needs of your event and community.
Your event should reflect the needs, interests, culture and diversity of the community it serves. There’s no one checklist for making an event universally welcoming. You and your community co-designers should take time to consider the elements that work best for your participants, and design them into the event.
Remember that attention to detail around logistics can go a long way to making an event more inviting-- things a thoughtful schedule, clear signage, good lighting, easy to access amenities like restrooms, arrangements for people with mobility issues, etc.
Know that your efforts to make the experience better for one group will likely improve the experience for others. For example, using a readable typeface, large font size, and clean uncluttered slides for a presentation will help those who have learning challenges like dyslexia, as well as older people with low vision, and those who are experiencing the event in a non-native language.
Here are a few general tips for making an event more inviting: