How to Take Steps to Being More Inclusive

Neurodiversity is a topic we should all get in front of and consider when planning events and gathering large groups of diverse people together. According to recent studies, about 20% of the world’s population is neurodivergent. But what does that mean? Neurodivergent, or neurodiverse, are terms we see a lot lately thanks to increased awareness. It refers to a person whose brain processes, learns, and/or behaves differently. ADHD and autism are two better-known conditions that fall under this umbrella.

Whether you’re familiar with neurodivergence, or even experience it yourself, you may be wondering why it’s important in the meetings, events, and incentives world: Why should you consider it when planning events and programs? Well, you’re likely to get better engagement and higher enjoyment and satisfaction if you do some simple things to make everyone feel more comfortable and included. Chances are you have many neurodivergent attendees (see the above 20% statistic—for every 100 attendees, 20 could be neurodivergent). Conditions such as ADHD and high-functioning autism have been referred to as “invisible disabilities” because they are often not “obvious” or something a person broadcasts about themselves. The same goes for learning disabilities that continue into adulthood. Never make an assumption! Just like you would include captions on a video for the hearing impaired, you should consider neurodivergent guests at every event

Luckily, we have some suggestions about making your event or program more accessible for neurodivergent individuals. Some are easy, and some require a bit more work or thought to go the extra mile. Either way, there’s no negative to implementing some of these ideas—neurodivergent or not, attendees appreciate the extra thought!

Give ‘Em A Break

Easy & Effective: Build in scheduled breaks! Everyone will be grateful for a breather in between sessions or intermissions for longer programs, especially ones heavy on information and education. In particular, Neurodivergent individuals often benefit from having more frequent and longer breaks to think over and absorb the content they’ve engaged with. Offering plenty of chances to recharge in quiet, safe spaces can be helpful.

Above & Beyond: Set up a sensory room—a dedicated space designed to provide a calming retreat from the hustle and bustle of the event environment. Sensory rooms are equipped with soft lighting, comfortable seating, and various sensory tools like noise-canceling headphones and tactile toys. These rooms offer a sanctuary where attendees can decompress, regulate their senses, and recharge. Having a sensory room available not only demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity but also acknowledges and respects the diverse needs of all participants, ensuring they can participate fully and meaningfully in the event.

Improve Your Communication

Easy & Effective: Clear communication strategies help get your message across, especially for those who struggle with social interaction. Good accessible materials benefit everyone, and neurodivergent individuals will be grateful for easy-to-digest information that is not laden with “marketing speak.” Some simple tips for better communications:

  1. Use clear, concise language and avoid “big” words, acronyms, or complicated phrases.
  2. Break up information into small, manageable chunks.
  3. Use visuals to explain complex ideas.
  4. Don’t overload your audience with too many action items at once and allow them time to digest before responding.

Above & Beyond: Try using bionic reading in event presentations. Bionic reading is a method that makes reading easier by highlighting the most important parts of words, usually the first few letters, in bold. This helps guide your eyes and lets your brain focus on these key parts, making it easier to read faster and more understandable. This technique is particularly useful for people who struggle with reading large amounts of text due to learning disabilities. It can be especially helpful in digital formats, where users can quickly become overwhelmed by large blocks of text. Bionic reading offers a way to enhance focus and retention by making the reading process less daunting and more accessible. (see?!)

Think Ahead

Easy & Effective: Providing attendees with an advanced schedule that includes details about expected crowd sizes can help them prepare and plan their day more effectively, minimizing confusion and anxiety. Offering simple solutions like ear defenders, noise-canceling headphones, or earplugs can also enhance their comfort and experience.

Above & Beyond: Pairing each attendee with a volunteer at your event can enhance the experience, particularly those who may find large gatherings overwhelming or challenging to navigate. Doing this provides a friendly face and a helping hand right from the start. This personalized assistance can help them feel more comfortable, making it easier for them to move around and engage with the content and other participants.

As a bonus, this can alleviate common networking challenges. The volunteer, who is likely more familiar with the event layout and schedule, can introduce the attendee to other participants, facilitate interactions, and help break the ice in social settings. This not only boosts the attendee’s confidence but also enriches their networking opportunities, allowing them to connect more meaningfully with others. This can transform an intimidating experience into a welcoming and inclusive one, ensuring all attendees can fully participate and benefit from the event.


Whether you choose to implement one of these ideas or integrate them all, the thoughtful effort will not go unnoticed. Attendees of all kinds will greatly appreciate the considerate measures put in place to ensure their comfort and engagement (hello, positive reviews!). Such initiatives not only make the event more accessible, but also demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity that can deeply resonate with everyone present. It’s about creating an environment where all attendees feel valued and supported, enhancing their overall experience and fostering a more welcoming atmosphere.


Note: This is a guide for event planners and professionals to use for inclusion and is not meant to provide any medical diagnosis.


Embrace neurodiversity at your next event!