Live meetings used to go something like this: a big-name financial services executive perched at the end of a long oak table.
Charts on tripod stands displayed squiggly lines and cryptic numbers; participants took notes, doodled, or daydreamed; speakers spoke and listeners listened, at least, that was the hope.
Fast forward and a group of millennials are taken into that same conference room several years later. This time, iPads are placed at each seat.The global head of meetings of that same financial services organization had the foresight to know that having this tech would grab her audiences’ attention. Participants are encouraged to tinker. Interactive games, surveys, graphics, and presentations are all at the touch of a finger. Explicit directions are not necessary. Exploration seamlessly occurs. Engagement is inevitable. The question remains, how do we capitalize on this type of momentum with the younger and distraction-prone generation?
Lifespan of the "Wow"
Millennials, those born between 1980 and 1996, are known as the first generation to grow up with computers. They possess an almost innate instinct on how to maneuver through various operating systems and interactive devices. Research suggests that millennials can focus for three minutes before getting distracted. So, even if having iPads intrigues the audience initially, the initial “wow” of it will wear off if there isn’t something more to the technology to keep their attention.
Studies have found that 90% of information transported to the brain is visual. This is good news for informing a meeting planner’s millennial engagement strategy; content should be short, entertaining, and interactive. Meeting planners can capitalize on this by using graphic-centric software and interspersing content with dialogue, hands-on activities, and reflection time.
Small group discussions that encourage unique perspectives followed by polling questions or a competitive round of gamified trivia are effective ways to grab and keep these tech-savvy participants’ attention.
Making it Matter
Another notable aspect of this generation is their desire to make a distinctive mark on the world.
Because of this generation’s attraction to authentic experiences, make sure that you talk about each perspective on any given topic. Incorporate discussions about current events and the impact of different strategies on their organization as well as the industry.
Smart Meetings’ February 2017 issue, summarized the “experience economy” of millennials as shaping workplaces and meetings around intentional and purposeful experiences. Millennials passionately subscribe to the idea that an experience-driven life will lead to positive self-transformation and fulfillment. Using second screen engagement technology to distribute presentation information before a meeting allows these multi-tasking participants to explore the content in a very personalized way. And this customization communicates to millennials that you care about what they bring to that long oak table. For the presenter, measuring attendee knowledge prior to a meeting through a quick informal quiz is a strategy that will lead to a more effective and engaging experience. It shows millennials that you care about what they bring to that long oak table.
We have all suffered through “death by PowerPoint” and millennials, especially, do not accept didactic, boring presentations. The antidote is simple, add a hefty dose of interaction, incorporate genuine passion, and encourage storytelling. Trust your business, trust yourself, and trust the fact that these individuals are desperately seeking something to relate to. Ask real-time questions that pique both their professional and personal interests. Play on their competitive spirit and visually express how their responses compare to others. When the focus is to create an incredibly valuable experience, your content will naturally be more captivating.
While millennials may be the tech-savvy generation, they still desire to have real experiences beyond being entertained by fancy equipment. Give purpose and meaning to the event technology you choose to adopt by utilizing a variety of engagement elements to continually encourage interaction and produce an impactful meeting.
Organizations that capitalize on interactive live meeting technology as a means not only to initially excite their attendees, but also to connect with their audience does just that--connects. Don’t waste your resources on simply trying to impress, get the most out of your investment by creating truly memorable live meeting experiences.