Evolving for millenials

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The millennials are the most educated, diverse and connected generation of our time, accounting for 80 million in the USA alone. By gradually becoming the most populous part of an audience, they will radically shape what events look like. With more millennials in the audience, event organisers need to learn what this generation want and expect in order to deliver successful conferences. Dan Schwabel, author of New York Times Bestseller: Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success, recently released an excellent study entitled How Millennials See Meetings Differently. The results have strong implications for event planners that are searching for ways to engage their millennial audiences.1. Design genuine experience Millennials crave for genuine experiences at events. In fact, according to Eventbrite’s research, 78 per cent of millenials would rather spend money on an experience or an event than buying something tangible. Meeting planners should become experience engineers that deliver a strong emotional message to their participants. The best example is the super-successful Belgian music festival Tomorrowland, which offers a powerful experience to all of their 200,000 festival-goers with compelling storytelling and supreme emotional engineering. 2. Leverage live polling According to Schwabel, 73 per cent of millennials are interested in participating in live polls during event sessions. They want to be an active part of the presentations – they crave to express their opinion and interact with speakers as they can do in the online environment. They don’t want to be mere observers. By engaging millennial delegates with live polling during the presentations, presenters create a strong group experience that leaves the audience feeling like they all have been part of the event story.3. Turn presentations into conversations Instead of passively listening to a speaker for an hour, millennials would rather use the majority of the presentation time for Q&A. This is the generation that wants to engage in the conversation. Schwabel notes that “it’s time to change the traditional speaker and panel formats to incorporate technology and audience participation.” Talk to your speakers and encourage them to leave enough room for the Q&A in the allocated time slot. If you plan to use Q&A tools, submit questions in advance to avoid silence and kick-off the conversation.  4. Create networking opportunities Schwabel states that 86 per cent of the millennials expect career networking and job opportunities from events. This makes sense knowing that millennials are generally underemployed and under-experienced. By organising networking sessions that connect millennials with companies, you bring a greater value, which reflects on the overall success of your event.5. Integrate social media  Millennials view experiences at live events as a valuable content to be shared with their online friends. Event professionals should seize this trend and aim at creating tweetable moments that millennials might spread to their extended online communities. Create the event hashtag and promote it so the millennials can live-tweet and spread the word about your event to the non-onsite attendees. Set up the tweet walls onsite and incentify participation by offering small rewards.   This article was first published in the April issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne
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