I have been a motivational speaker at over 20 years at over 90 events a year. The meeting environment has definitely evolved with the next generation having lower attention spans and the preference for instant gratification.
Especially with younger generations who consume online media constantly, we compete with online sources for people’s attention.
Thus, meetings need to capitalize on face to face learning and networking.
Some Ideas to Engage Younger Generations at Meetings:
- Millennial are looking for an experience. Events need to have a balanced agenda. If all speakers are heavy, dry content, retention will drop
- Mix it up. have engaging, interactive content and speakers. Make the agenda fun, relevant, interesting
- Have something surprising and unexpected ( a new format, speaker or event)
- Have a theme that speaks to the most compelling industry challenges. Information people must have
The Biggest change is Information is a commodity. If all speakers are just relating information, the audience can get this online. The reason to attend is
-to see what is new and impacts the audience and to ask questions and get feedback
-To network with peers
- if applicable, get valuable continuing education credits
-network with industry suppliers( with a trade show)
Finally, and most importantly, people come for the experience
Thus we need to make it a great experience. Memorable, impactful, fun
This is where we go wrong , event planners stack agenda with content because we come to learn
We actually come for the experience. What experience do you want people to have ? Is what planners should ask
Market the heck out of the benefits ( above) of face to face events
Also, Audiences today like immediate gratification (ie- make it easy register , get a hotel, get ceu credits, etc)
They have lower attention spans so deliver information in short bursts. Remind them over and over ( in different ways) about things ( ie register)
Younger audiences are very much transition based versus relationship focused. They want to know how this event benefits them or solves their problems.
Thus. Focus on fun, the venue, the speakers, the ceu credits and transferable skills
People are much more short term in their careers now, they switch jobs and careers much sooner and more often . Thus it’s less about long term relationship and specific technical skills.
Instead, Have speakers who talk about transitional skills ( communication skills, stress reduction, etc) transferable to other jobs.
Many may not think of a job as a career, thus they want to know how what they learn will benefit them in all areas of life, or even a different career.
If you are interested in building your business with younger generations but are falling short in spite of your best efforts, you may want to consider this in your strategizing:
Younger clients do not want to have a relationship with you or your organization.
Millennials look for immediate solutions to their problems, solutions that don't require a relationship to proceed.
Young, tech-savvy professionals came of age in the digital world, often preferring a speedy, impersonal text message to a telephone conversation. This is an age bracket that has been conditioned to demand instant gratification and look for immediate solutions to their problems. A forced relationship building routine will get in the way of doing business with this demographic.
The World War II generation rebuilt as their parents had, with a strong reliance on relationships with local bankers, insurance companies, realtors, employers. The relationship-based society has steadily diminished through succeeding generations as our social order has evolved.
Studies reveal younger generations are much more transient; they change jobs (and, often, careers), houses, and spouses three or four times more frequently than their grandparents’ generation. Millennials do not think about long-term commitments and contracts when they go to purchase products, typically more interested in immediate use and anticipation of future obsolescence. In fact, they are frustrated with relationship-building strategies that may be required to do business.
Business models have historically been based on building and sustaining long-term client relationships. Banks, insurance companies, physicians, financial planners, realtors and other interpersonal businesses work hard to attract, reward and retain long-term customers. A good advisor wants to know all about your past, your future goals, your plans, and your dreams to help build a relationship and provide more value. Some, however, are finding that this relationship building model is ineffective with younger clients. In fact, this model gets in the way of doing business with younger generations.
Gone are the days where workers were loyal to one job, one organization, or one leader. Loyalty is simply not the language or the mentality that younger generations gravitate towards. In fact, this relationship business model may repel these clients. Millennials don't want you to sell them service or relationships; they want you to tell them what you can do for them. Technology solutions are much more efficient than nurturing relationships.
Instant Gratification – Solve My Problem
This generation has little interest in how long you've been in business, how big your company is, or what your mission and values are. They care about how easy it is to work with you. They want to know if you will keep your promises. They want to know if you will fill their needs. They want you to solve their problems.
When doing business requires making an appointment, a barrier is already in place, as schedules change quickly. If that appointment then requires completion of paperwork to be submitted for analysis and a delayed response? Many millennials will go elsewhere. Where will they go? Online.
Millennials have a strong preference to shop online. A quick Google search will bring up hundreds of service solutions – solutions that don't require the time and commitment of a relationship investment. If tapping out a few form fields online will do the trick, all the better. Millennials consume media all day. Online shopping offers quick and clean comparisons and comfortably completed purchases. Technology is the way to go.
Many organizations recognize this affinity, so they feature pertinent information online, such as realtor MLS listings. Remember, however, that your millennial shopper is tech savvy. Muddying the technological waters by requiring an email address and other contact information will often send millennials scurrying back to Google to find a simpler provider, one with no obvious interest in sending emails, checking in, or – heaven forbid – build a relationship.
Take My Feedback
Younger generations are hard-wired to spread the word about your service and your product. If they are happy, or especially if they are not, they will spread the work through social media and other networks. In deciding to work with an organization or purchase a product, reviews are often the salesmen. Reviews are taken to heart. Millenials want you to care about what they think, and they want to profit from the experience of others.
- To market to younger generations, use technology. Get to the point quickly. Tell them what you will do for them and how you will do it.
- Use graphics, video and social networks to engage them, making the message memorable.
- Millennials are our largest generation and our biggest future client.
- Millennials have more options than any other consumer group in history . . . and they have the least loyalty.
- Give our millennials what they want the way they want it, and build your client base.