I have been a motivational speaker at over 20 years at over 90 events a year. The meeting environment has definatly 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.