Multi-generational Conferences: Attracting All 4 Groups to Your Meetings


If you build it, will they come? When it comes to the association annual conference, the answer to that remains to be seen. It is no secret that the four generations dominating the workforce all operate distinctly from one another – but what does that mean for attracting attendance to your conference? How does one engage with audiences with such vastly different interests?

Clearly someone is coming to these meetings because meetings growth is on the rise, according to Convene’s 27th Annual Meetings Market Survey. As we know, numbers don’t usually lie, but don’t necessarily tell the whole story. If you want to ensure that you are reaching all audiences once it comes conference time, try implementing a couple of these and you might be able to diversify the attendee pool even further – selfies and smartphone savants included.

Spend some time in their shoes

The four dominate generations, baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (millennials) and Generation Z, all grew up in very different time periods. From a generation that began in a post-war era (baby boomers) to a crew that has never seen life without the Internet (Gen Z), this presents both a tremendous challenge and opportunity when planning your next big meeting.

To combat that, figure out where their biggest influences lie. Boomers are still looking to live and experience professional growth way past their retirement age. Generation X saw both of their parents work and really appreciate the work-life balance. Millennials can multitask at warp speed and influenced very much by what technology can do for them. And Z is just now entering the workforce looking to differentiate themselves from their millennial predecessors.

Engage at every age

As different as they are, these generations have one big thing in common: they are all seeking engagement. They don’t want to be talked at or stuck in meaningless meetings – they want to interact. While social media presents a unique way to engage, never underestimate the power of physical attendance and response.

Host a presentation platform that allows for a dialogue exchange. Boomers are interested in a short lecture with opportunities for questions, and then break up the audience into groups for intimate discussion to appeal to Generation X. To increase audience engagement with Generation Y and Z, gamify part of the lecture with an interactive quiz with learning platforms such as Kahoot!.

Create an all-inclusive experience

It is a basic human need to feel wanted and included. At a recent WERC conference in May 2018, a panel was held to address the simple need of getting millennials engaged in their industry. The audience included members of every generation and the dialogue paved the way for them to try and understand one another. Because they allowed the discussion to involve all generational tiers, the attendees found this panel both informative and effective.

Bottom line: don’t segregate your audiences. Baby boomers don’t want special treatment – they want to learn just as much, if not more, than their younger counterparts. The name of the millennial game is inclusivity and connectivity. They thrive on a sense of community – so deliver that on every level.

Through a little alteration of previous mindsets combined with the leverage of these new identifications, associations can construct sold-out experiences with members from across all generations who are able to successfully grow together both professionally and personally.

MultiView Team Expert Julie Bernhard

Julie Bernhard

News Briefs Executive Editor

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