Before you host a speaker: Ensure a safe space
Ensure a safe space
When organizing a speaking event, there are many logistics to coordinate, from securing a virtual or physical space to sending out invites and building agendas.
You should also consider the safety of your speaker and the audience. Nothing resonates more deeply than someone saying “I hear you”, “I’ve been there”, and “there’s hope”.
However, at an event that talks about mental health, diversity and inclusion, there is also a need to ensure that everyone participating feels safe. This includes the speaker and members of the audience, even if they are outside of the identity group.
Supports are available to ensure that a safe environment is created.
Support for audience members
Lived experience testimonials can elicit strong emotional responses from audience members who may have gone through, or are currently struggling with, similar issues. We strongly recommend that supports be made available at the event, such as:
- information on your department’s Employee Assistance Program, Informal Conflict Management Services, Ombud’s office and Peer Support Program (if applicable)
- contact information for an Elder or spiritual advisor who can support an audience member who may be emotionally triggered and require support
- event organizers can ask audience members if anyone is trained in Mental Health First Aid or crisis intervention
It is also important to ensure your event is accessible (available only on the Government of Canada network).
Support for speakers
The Forum strives to ensure that our speakers feel safe in sharing their stories. Event organizers are encouraged to consider actions to support the speakers prior to the event:
- provide details regarding the purpose and logistics of the event, as well as the audience’s expectations
- select your location with care, given that our speakers are sharing personal lived experiences, and the nature of these presentations require a quiet and safe space
After‑care for the speakers
After the event, touch base with the speaker to see how they are doing. Thank them for their courage in sharing their story.
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