Tips for planning meetings to engage all generations

October 18, 2018 Cassie Uecker

Over the past few quarters, we have highlighted a different generation and how to engage them at your next meeting or event. Here is the catch though. We all know our meetings are multigenerational. So how do you design and create a meeting that engages your entire audience?

We would like to sum up our series by giving you some helpful and practical tips on how to cater to all four of the generations we have highlighted (Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers), engaging them each individually without leaving one group in the dust.

  1. Diversify your planning team: Before you even start planning your meeting or event, take a look at the planning team or committee you have assembled to assist in the logistics of the event. Are they all from one or two of the generations? If so, branch out and try to have a representative from each of the generations. Their ideas and opinions will most likely reflect those of their respective peer group.
     
  2. Look for commonalities and be wary of stereotypes: We have mentioned this throughout this series, but overall, the generations aren’t as different as we are sometimes led to believe. Focus on the commonalities between the groups and don’t fall victim to stereotypes. For example, a common stereotype might be that Baby Boomers aren’t tech savvy. However, if the technology serves a purpose, they are likely to adopt it. Find technology that is clear in its purpose and you will appeal to all the generations in one fell swoop.
     
  3. Mix it up with options: Even with commonalities, there are distinct differences between generations so mix things up a bit as well. Start the day with a lecture, then break into small groups and end with an activity. Have one evening event focus on interaction and experience and another dedicated to recognition and awards. Deliver materials digitally and also have some printed copies on hand. Have two speakers that attendees can select from. Wherever you can, look for ways to incorporate the subtle differences between the groups into your agenda.
     
  4. Make collaborating easy: Give plenty of opportunities for different generations to come together, collaborate and get to know each other. This could be through multiple channels like small group discussions, networking and social events or through an event app. Set the expectation from the get-go that your meeting or event is meant to be a place to foster relationships. Once relationships are formed, you have a base to break down walls that might hinder these groups from working together.
     
  5. Tell a story: You may not believe it, but there were generations before the Boomers and the Millennials—the Silent Generation, the Greatest Generation, the Interbellum Generation, all the way back to the Cavemen Generation. All jokes aside, there is one common thread throughout human history. We are storytellers. From paintings on cave walls to the funny memes we scroll through today, humans connect to stories, no matter the year they were born in. Make sure your event tells a story, one that resonates with your company’s mission, the product you’re launching, whatever ties your attendees together, and you’ll be golden.

 

Sources

http://www.successfulmeetings.com/Strategy/Meeting-Strategies/How-to-Engage-a-Multigenerational-Audience/
https://www.emergenetics.com/blog/five-ways-to-foster-collaboration-in-a-multigenerational-workforce/
http://www.themeetingmagazines.com/cit/multigenerational-meetings/

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