Creating Inclusive Events

15th May 2023 | By Jackie Handy

A huge part of being a professional speaker and member of the PSA is the events we host and attend. We have the chance to connect with people, share our expertise and gain valuable insights from others.

While we attend the same event, the experience we have is a unique one. We network with different people and take our own specific golden nuggets from the event. That is a good thing, of course – life would be boring if we were all the same!

What isn’t a good thing is if some people are prevented from having the opportunity to participate equitably due to the logistics, the venue, or the way in which the event is conducted. I see this as the antithesis of what the PSA represents and what our values of Respect, Excellence and Connection underpin.

Over the last few months, I have been working hard to create a support guide for our Regional Presidents and wider membership, with suggestions on how to ensure the events we host are accessible and inclusive for all. This hasn’t been a solo effort, and I’d like to extend my thanks to Rachel Morgan-Trimmer, Ruth Fogg, Amanda Harris and Kat Paylor-Bent for their invaluable support in creating this important document.

Our intention is to grow our membership and be known as the association for professional speakers. The diversity within our community is a huge strength and one which we continue to acknowledge, celebrate and embrace.

This guide provides ways of presenting our material in a way that supports as many people as possible. Using slides, inclusive language, incorporating interaction for everyone, additional virtual considerations, as well as support for event organisers and emcees.

I’m sure you will find it useful both for PSA events as well as in your work. You can view it HERE.

I see this as an evolving document that becomes a staple tool in your speaker portfolio. I also welcome additions to it. Feel free to reach out to me directly on [email protected]

While we recognise that the needs of different people are important, we also acknowledge that we may not always get it right. And sometimes, when accommodating one person’s needs, we overlook the needs of another. The key is to keep trying, keep learning and keep evolving.

Ultimately, to be truly inclusive as speaking professionals, we must ask our clients and our guests what they need.

I have personally found that asking the question, “What adjustments will you need me to make to my presentation in order to ensure everyone in the audience can participate?” is well received and appreciated. Perhaps it would help you too?

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