5 Ways to Turn Your Next Meeting into a Millennials Magnet. Millennials are now the largest segment of working Americans—comprising 33 percent of the workforce. They’re the first generation to grow up online and with a cell phone in their hands. Millennials are more connected, more educated, and more tech-savvy. And when it comes to business meetings and conferences they demand more than a series of lectures and cocktail reception.
Engaging millennials in events takes strategy, planning, and a willingness to take some risks. And knowing what they want from a meeting is the first step. The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) has invested in research to better understand what the millennial generation expects from meetings, conventions, and other corporate events. Here’s a summary of what they discovered.
Education combined with entertainment is the thing they value most.
– “What’s in it for me?” is a primary motivator. Millennials want to know how they will personally benefit from attending.
– Career networking and job opportunities are the top priorities when it comes to driving millennials to a specific event.
– Millennials want the Internet integrated into meetings and events. Real-time interaction during presentations is also highly desired.
It’s time to start designing events with millennials in mind. As the largest portion of the American workforce, they are the future of every industry. Changing up the way you promote and execute corporate events is the key to harnessing the attention of this generation. If your meetings have been falling flat, here are some ideas to help you engage and inspire the millennial workforce.
1. If you build it they will come.
One of the first things you need to do is build an effective, exciting website for your event. People—and especially millennials—will look for information online. Create a simple, bright homepage that makes people want to learn more. Keep information brief (focus on what attendees will get out of the event) and make it easy for people to register or request more information.
Go social with the website. Embed social media widgets that keep people in the know about new speakers and other event news. Invite speakers and other influencers to post blogs that whet the appetites of potential participants.
If you choose to engage participants, make sure your blog is monitored. Millennials like to be part of the conversation, so responding to questions and comments is important.
2. Cater to short attention spans.
Think TED talks. The hard-hitting, abbreviated style of these story-laden presentations is the new standard for public speaking. It’s also the best way to reach, engage, and mobilize your millennial audience. The short format—talks need to stay under 18 minutes—is designed for maximum impact. By the time your participants start to lose interest, the talk is concluding with its hard-hitting take home message.
Rather than scheduling a 30 or 45-minute lecture, break up your presentations into smaller segments and cut out all the fluff. In the world of Twitter and blogs, people desire a one-two punch when it comes to information, rather than an in-depth analysis.
3. There’s an app for that.
Millennials have grown up in the world of social media, mobile devices, and instant gratification. Utilizing an an app as part of your next conference, tradeshow, or meeting gives millennials an easy way to get involved—but it can’t just be white noise. Make sure your conference or meeting app gives them more than general information.
“It has to engage and lead somebody to action,” Jeff Barrett, PR guru and one of “Forbes’” Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers in 2013, said. He encourages event organizers to use mobile apps to help facilitate networking, create sub-conversations among participants, or conduct live polling during a break-out group or keynote address.
4. Make it interactive.
Seventy-three percent of millennials want to be part of live polling during event sessions. They want to share their opinions, ask questions, and feel like they are part of what’s happening. You can facilitate real-time participation through social media, texts, or apps designed specifically for this purpose.
Gamification is another way to make your event interactive. This uses the mechanics of a game, such as points, challenges, badges, and completion bars, to encourage attendee participation and engagement. It ties into millennials’ intrinsic desire for recognition, accomplishment, and feedback.
However, beware of using gamification for its own sake. Make sure you have clear outcomes in mind that are tangible and beneficial to participants.
5. Re-think your event space.
Pre-function space is the name of the game when it comes to venue. Millennials crave more non-linear education experiences, which is transforming the look and feel of meetings and conferences.
One stage with one speaker and breakout sessions in separate rooms behind closed doors are becoming a thing of the past. A more casual, open format makes it easy for attendees to come and go and encourages more spontaneous conversations and interaction.
“With the open format, people can take a few minutes of content in,” Kelly Peacy, Senior Vice President of Education and Events for PCMA said. “They’ll take what they need, and if they don’t like it, they’ll walk away from that space and go someplace else. That’s the beauty of open space learning. You can come and go as you please without offending a speaker or other people.”
Changing up the way you plan and execute corporate events like training meetings and conferences can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Tap into the expertise of a corporate event planner to help you incorporate these ideas into your next big event. It will be well worth it when you see an engaged audience full of millennials who can’t stop tweeting about the innovative meeting they just attended.
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