As more people work past the traditional retirement age and Generation Z begins to enter the workforce, ‘digital natives’ are increasingly working alongside Baby Boomers. When planning an event with a cross-generational delegation, it’s important to bridge the gap with effective communications and content engagement strategies.

Born onwards of 1997, Gen Z is all about speed. They’ve grown up with high-speed internet, smart phones, touch screens and video calling as the norm. They expect fast responses and prefer messaging apps over talking on the phone because they can get to the point quicker.

Conversely, Boomers (born between 1946 to 1964) have had to transition into the digital world from predominantly in-person and telephone-based communication. Traditionally, they’ve been more likely to prefer printouts, face to face contact and show more patience for lengthier explanations. Where a Boomer would prefer to pick up the phone, a Millennial would find it easier and less intrusive to send a quick text.

Audiences have changed

Until the pandemic, over the past two decades the communication gap between the age groups has grown wider with each advance in technology. However, reliance on virtual communications over the lockdowns of the last two years has helped expose the older generations to the benefits of a digital world. Audiences returning to events in 2022 will not be the same as they were before Covid-19. This presents a huge opportunity to build on the expectations of delegates for a flexible and increasingly digital event content strategy, which enables them to engage in a way that suits them.

Achieving meaningful engagement

So, with multiple generations working side by side, how can we navigate potential generational divides when creating a content strategy for an event? Meaningful engagement is the central pillar on which all Live Group events stand. To land messages with impact and clarity, it’s important to make sure everyone at your event feels you’re communicating in a way that’s right for them. A good communications strategy considers what you want to use an event to communicate, how you want to say it and, most importantly, how the delegation wants to hear it.

Our top tips

Based on the current trends we’re seeing at recent events here at Live Group, here are five top tips to help break down the barriers and create event content which will appeal across the ages:

    1. Blur the lines between physical and virtual.Creating a community for your event is essential. And the more that community can move seamlessly from in-person experiences to the virtual world, the better. We find that younger audiences forge communities more easily online versus in person, using their digital selves as a seed to their physical experience. With Boomers it’s often the opposite. Many older delegates will prefer to create a physical connection first and foremost, which they can then maintain online.
    2. Make sure your app interfaces easily with the physical world. Many young people live their lives through apps and an event is no different. It may come naturally for Millennials to download an event app and use it to create something like a personalised agenda. But it’s also important to ensure your app functionality caters for older delegates who we know often prefer to print an agenda, along with other essential information, to bring with them as a physical reference throughout the day.
    3. Supplement visual messages with a handout. Video is by far the best way to reach the younger generations. Delivering messages at a fast pace and in a convenient format, video with short bursts of information can keep an event’s energy levels high. Whereas younger delegates are generally happy taking notes as they watch content, we find that older members of an audience will welcome a handout summarising a video’s key points.
    4. Use gamification to motivate engagement. Gamification is great for creating a buzz within your event. It may feel counter-intuitive but, in our experience, boomers are the ones who will really embrace it. Our advice with gamification is to tread carefully. It can be easy to think a digital game will appeal to Millennials but, without investing hundreds of thousands in the tech, we see the younger generation being turned off when gamification within an event app doesn’t live up to their other online experiences. Our advice is to focus on gaming mechanisms that reward simple behaviours, such as a 'progress bar' for submitting event information - the constant lure of reaching 100% can work wonders for all ages!
    5. Consider supplementing push notifications with automated emails. Many of our clients are going paperless, opting to share all information in their event app. Younger delegates are naturally inclined to use the app as their ‘go to’ for everything. But we know many older delegates are happier locating certain types of information in their inbox. In addition to using push notifications within your app, setting up a series of automatic emails to share information from the app can work really well.

Ultimately, great communication comes down to understanding what an event needs to achieve and tracking the extent to which an event’s objectives are met. Once we understand the desired outcome, we work with our clients to identify the relevant metrics before suggesting the best communications strategy for them.

For more information on how Live Group can help you to build meaningful engagement for your brand through in-person, virtual and hybrid events, get in touch.

 

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