For a better part of the decade, the discourse around generational differences has focused on Millennials. Article upon article has been written about how to navigate the needs and desires of the largest age demographic in the workforce. The meetings and events industry is no different. From incorporating new technology, disrupting the corporate status quo, and adding a social consciousness to meetings, Millennials are influencing our industry every day.
As event planners, our work centers around finding ways to make sure all attendees remain engaged, enlivened, and enlightened. Bridging the gap between generations may sometimes seem like a tall task, but we’re here to help. From Baby Boomers to Gen X, Millennials to Gen Z, each demographic comes with its own specific set of values, needs, and requirements to ensure they’re fully participating in your program.
Here are a few ways to ensure everyone’s connected – no matter their age!
Everyone likes to have their voices heard, but when is the best time to begin a dialogue with your attendees? Consider this – Millennials and Gen X’ers grew up with platforms that allowed for their opinions to be cast real-time to a wide audience. Further, consider how socially engaged our younger counterparts continue to feel in the social and political world. On a smaller scale, meeting planners should consider these factors when opening a dialogue with attendees. Asking oneself, “How do I ensure that I’m keeping lines of communication open for my younger counterparts?” may encourage early participation by younger attendees. You can do this by crowdsourcing agenda topics, voting for engaging activities, and setting up various planning committees to keep the energy alive all the way to the Welcome Ceremony. Every voice matters; some generational demographics just like to be reminded of that.
A meeting is a balance between a company’s objectives and an attendee’s attention span. Mitigating boredom and alienating a guest requests forethought in every aspect of planning. When looking at your meeting agenda, think of your attendees. Boomers tend to favor a unilateral lecture-style format with time for questions and answers interspersed to ensure all members remain on the same page. Conversely, Millennials and Gen X prefer more roundtable, fireside discussions that focus on participation and actionable outcomes. Keep this in mind and pepper in a little of both for your attendees. One thing that all attendees can agree upon, though, is that face-to-face interaction remains an integral part of any meeting and is a cross-generational response to our ever-increasingly digitized world.
Location, location, location. A mantra for real estate and a mantra for event planners. While any destination can work as a backdrop for your program, thinking about the generational demographics of your meeting may mean considering a variety of destinations. Younger generations tend to favor smaller, more intimate cities where one is able to get the local’s perspective right from the onset of the meeting. More senior generations lean more towards established counterparts such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Taking this into account, ensure that attendees of every age group understands the “Why” behind the destination choice by offering interactive, informal offsite activities so everyone can live like a local for a day or two.
When attendees of various backgrounds, ages, and experiences celebrate together it’s a win-win. How do you ensure meetings are designed to address the needs of all generations so attendees remain engaged, enlivened, and enlightened? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We’re here to help.
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