Events have long been focussed on the masses, a kind of one-size-fits-all approach that aims to please the majority for maximum impact.
But with the acceleration of tech capabilities, coupled with a sudden reliance on virtual means of communication, there has been a recent swing towards favouring younger delegate which planners need to address. Today’s young adults – namely gen. Z and millennials – have grown up alongside this technology revolution. Their learning style is well suited to being in a fast-paced environment, seeing instant results and actively participating through the click of a button instead of in-person. The events industry has embraced these changes, not least because of the current climate where face-to-face is not merely unpopular – it’s impossible.
What’s needed now is for event planners to ensure they’re not only meeting these requirements but also reacting to the needs of an older audience to maximise their event experience too. After a year of dark event spaces, it’s important for organisers to remember the basic principles of how different generations consume information. With the signs of a vaccine and the hope of a return to business in spring of 2021, it’s a good time for organisers to consider their content and how they will deliver it.
Delegates in the mid-age range may well already be expert in their field, at the peak of their career and confident in their abilities as well as aware of their knowledge gaps. Applying new information to current life situations makes it all the easier to learn, so ensuring a level of practical example is key in event content.
Those even later in their careers, aged in their mid-60s and beyond are arguably the most difficult to cater for in today’s tech-savvy world. They’ve seen the pace of the world increase, their own rate of output may have slowed, and while still rich on experience, they may find some newer concepts may not yet have filtered in to become routine.
Yet there are fundamental similarities between the learning styles of forty upwards and that of their juniors. Both older age groups and those starting out in their careers respond well to active participation in general, meaning event planners incorporating some simple means to do so – tech related or otherwise – will be engaging all groups. Concrete examples and visual aids also assist in drumming the message home, while the increased awareness of employee burnout means frequent rest periods will benefit everyone.
As events become hybrid with combined physical and virtual elements, these fundamentals of how each generation prefers to work and learn will become the foundations for navigating this ‘new normal’ for the industry. And by combine long-established learnings with modern advancements, and we can all progress whether that’s by the click of a button or a slap of the back.