How to Tailor Your Meeting Tech for Each Generation

As meetings become progressively digital, how do you ensure all attendees are engaged?

For planners, it used to be that a cohesive, well-timed agenda and crowd-pleasing menu were the primary ingredients for a stellar meeting. While those points are still entirely relevant, the past decade has produced a new predicament for planners to grapple with: rapidly advancing technology and more multigenerational crowds. Naturally, this pairing creates a challenge: How do you stay on the forefront of event technology while continuing to cater to all ages?

As a recent study from the University of South Carolina emphasized, answering this question isn’t necessarily a black-and-white matter. Researchers concluded that trying to tailor your tech for each generation isn’t a matter of making sense of statistics (e.g., 63 percent of Gen Y owns a game console while only 19 percent of baby boomers do). Rather, it involves gaining a deeper understanding for each generation’s intrinsic values, from self-learning to a fear of failure to global awareness.

Here, we outline the three most common generations you’ll see seated in your meeting venues (or via Skype conference calls), their intrinsic values, and how to tailor your meeting tech to meet those ideals.    

Baby Boomers

What they value: Idealism, image, personal growth, team orientation, self-expression, youth, nostalgia, and health and wellness (according to the University of South Carolina study)

How to tailor your tech: Although they might seem like polar opposites, technology and nostalgia go hand in hand, according to The Atlantic. For example, consider investing in virtual reality gear that might “transport” attendees to a different time during a decades-themed event. In terms of health and wellness, consider investing in fitness-related wearables (possibly for a grand prize, should your budget allow only that). When it comes to team orientation, ensuring that your attendees (even across continents) feel like they’re part of a cohesive, goal-driven group is critical. Consider allowing for live video and text chatting prior to and during the event for attendees to collaborate. 

Gen X

What they value: Choice, global awareness, change, techno-literacy, individualism, lifelong learning, informality, self-reliance and not fearing failure, according to the University of South Carolina study

How to tailor your tech: As Gen Xers are positioned to crave learning, why not transition that ethos toward technology through a product demo or interactive session with artificial intelligence equipment? Alternatively, since individuals born in this generation favor choice, consider having both face-to-face and digital meeting options present. When it comes to global awareness, ensure that your attendees are well-versed in the other cultures and communities they’ll be working with.

Gen Y

What they value: High self-esteem, entertainment, diversity, networking, change, technology and being a global citizen, according to the University of South Carolina study

How to tailor your tech: As numbers from the Pew Research Center suggest, millennials are the most likely generation to be gamers, whether on their mobile devices, a laptop or through a console. Whether through incentivized digital quiz sessions or through apps like MeetingPlay, consider incorporating a gaming element to increase engagement. As for networking, the study suggests placing a greater emphasis on connecting attendees through LinkedIn and other social handles prior to (and after) the event. And, as with both Gen X and baby boomers, connecting cross-country attendees is important. Investing in software that can help translate discussions in real time could also be helpful in supporting this generation’s desire for global citizenship.