How to Engage Millennials at Events

As baby boomers retire and the millennial generation graduates from college and enters the workforce, the audience in today’s corporate events looks different than it did a few years ago. That trend will be more pronounced in the future. By 2020, millennials will comprise 46 percent of the workforce. So  adopting new methods to engage millennials at events is essential.

To understand what will reach millennials at events, it helps to understand a bit about what defines their generation. They are highly socially aware, and want to be part of organizations that share their values. They value connections with the people around them, including genuine connections in the workplace. They have high self-esteem, and believe their voice should be heard. And because they grew up with technology, technology plays a central role in their lives.

Avoid Formalities

To millennials, a formal environment can feel both stifling and artificial. Although millennials take what they do seriously, they are turned off by overly formal environments and prefer a more egalitarian setting. A lighter environment also facilitates their ability to make connections with the people around them. Doing so can be tricky if your event is attended by baby boomers and millennials alike, but a loosening of formalities is something that is changing the corporate culture across all industries and will continue in the future.

Get Them Involved

Getting your audience involved in providing feedback about your corporate event is a good practice no matter the age of your target audience, but doing so resonates particularly well with millennials, who appreciate the opportunity to participate in a corporate event.

As you consider ways to engage millennials at events by getting them involved in the event, keep in mind that they grew up on teamwork and enjoy it. Providing activities that require teamwork will keep them engaged and gives them an opportunity to connect with one another. At the same time, you give them an opportunity to create something that might be truly valuable.

Facilitate Social Media Chatter

Millennials use social media extensively, from Facebook and Twitter to Vine and Yik Yak. Consequently, millennials can turn into your marketers if you inspire them to do so. You don’t need to remind them to share their experiences on social media (although a dedicated hashtag won’t hurt). You just need to provide an enjoyable event. From a memorable meal, to a visually striking installment, to a great speaker, millennials will take to the Web if they are impressed.

Show You Care

Millennials have an intense desire to be part of an organization that has a positive impact, and are the most civically engaged generation. They respond well to events that are socially conscious. So consider how you can integrate social values into your event (and perhaps take them beyond the event). For example, an event with green components such as locally sourced food can be attractive, especially if you walk the walk in other aspects of your business.

What have you experienced in your attempts to engage millennials at an event? Share in the comments!

This post was originally published on the One Smooth Stone blog on June 18, 2015. For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing bduffy@onesmoothstone.com

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