Meetings planners are now facing the reality of what it’s like to juggle the values, attitudes, lifestyles and methods of communication for five generations of attendees.
The Greatest Generation (1925 to 1945), Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964), Generation X (1961 to 1979), Millennials or Gen Y (1980 to 2000), and now Gen Z (2000 to today) all grew up in very different worlds that each require different approaches to key meeting components. Here are five key factors for meeting planners to consider when planning multigenerational meetings.
These different generations all have different preferences when it comes to the meeting agenda, i.e., the delivery of the agenda and content. While younger generations want digital content, older generations still want paper. The solution: Look at your attendance data, and print meeting content based on the wants and needs of the different age groups. Same goes for having note pads in the meeting room.
Speakers & Engagement
Each generation learns differently. Millennials enjoy learning in an electronic environment, so having a digital app or network to engage with attendees virtually is key. Gen Xers are known for seeking knowledge and getting industry questions answered at meetings. A good way to address this is by bringing in local experts as well as creating small group workshops for attendees to interact with one another. Lastly, Baby Boomers learn in a more lecture-based environment. They also value face-to-face time, which is why networking events and time to meet one-on-one is necessary when appealing to this generation. The solution: Either create educational sessions that approach each learning style, or create different sessions that appeal to the varying audiences. Just make sure to clearly state in the agenda which different learning styles will be addressed during each.
While each generation is different, there are also some commonalities between the five, including their preferences for the ideal duration of an educational session. Most audiences lose interest in a presentation after 15 minutes, hence why the average 18-minute TED Talk is widely popular among all generations. The solution: By keeping educational sessions between 15 and 30 minutes, it forces the speaker to focus on the most important aspects of a topic and keeps attendees engaged in the process.
Food & Beverage
There’s a myth that older generations want a more traditional meat and potato–type meal, but the truth is all generations want healthier options. The solution: Incorporate locally sourced foods, and offer smaller, tapas-style portions to give attendees a taste of a destination without packing on the calories.
Millennials report seeking local, immersive experiences. The solution: While you want a flashy destination that appeals to every generation, it’s not a bad idea to pick one that has a CSR component for attendees to opt to build houses or help the community in some way.