March 27, 2014 by Jeff Hurt
Millennials are angry, vocal and hungry for social change says Nancy Lublin, CEO of dosomething.org and Umair Haque, director of Havas Media Labs in a September 2013 Fast Company article
You need to adapt your conference or die! (Paraphrasing these two thought leaders).
“You have to [change] if you want to stay in business. You’re listening to your target market and your target market cares. They are angry, they’re posting about these things, they’re hungry to have an impact on the world. If you’re someone who sells or will ever sell anything to these people, you should be listening to them. That’s basic business,” says Lublin.
Many conference organizers are looking for ways to attract a new generation to their event.
The insights Lublin and Haque provided are something all conference hosts, leaders and organizers should consider. It is more than just incorporating social media and texting. It has to do with adapting to global social changes and Millennials’ needs to engage them as paying attendees.
As Haque says, there’s a big in difference putting a nice new coat of paint on something with a new sheen and doing something authentic, real-world and meaningful. Too many conference experiences are outdated, promote lecture as the primary experience, are forged on tradition and uphold all white males in their speaker lineups. This is the exact opposite of real-world, meaningful experiences.
We need conference hosts and organizers who are rebellious and acknowledge that some things are broken. They realize that the old conference rules are broken and need to be rewritten for a 21st Century audience.
Smartphones, mobile devices and social media are the tools of today’s Millennials. 20-somethings text each other and post in social media. If they registered for your event and posted something about it on Facebook, they expect that you know that and will respond to them there. They also expect you to text them important information as well as have a conference app.
Conference organizers, hosts and leaders have been seduced that providing tons of information and a variety of lectures and panels is what people really want. Trying to attend as many education sessions as possible and cram learning actually has the opposite effect. It causes us to know and learn less in the long-run. Millennials value conferences that provide value through effective learning opportunities that help them solve pain points and real world issues. Focusing on core issues and quality programming attract Millennials more than offering something for everyone.
Conferences that attract and retain Millennials provide a sense of hope and a pathway to improve in the face of global disruption and old broken ways. Millennials have lost faith that government, education and business as traditional institutions. As a conference organizer you can create a unique event experience that allows Millennials, and all attendees, to be participants and co-creators to real world solutions to the problems they face.
Adapt Your Business To Social Change Or Die, Fast Company, September 2013
Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored Conference 2013
The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business by Unmair Haque
Dosomething.Org, Nancy Lublin
Braindoddonleadership.com, Brian Dodd,
How would you finish this statement: “Angry Millennials Love Conferences that…” ? Why do you think the statement “conferences must adapt or die” is accurate or inaccurate?
Filed Under: Event Planning
[…] Millennials are angry, vocal and hungry for social change says Nancy Lublin, CEO of dosomething.org and Umair Haque, director of Havas Media Labs in a September 2013 Fast Company articleYou need to adapt your conference or die! […]
Poor Millennials – called “lazy”, labeled as having “no work ethic” – and they’re angry too? Wouldn’t you be with all those labels?
Here’s what puzzles me: in talking directly with millennials, they don’t express these same feelings about meetings and conferences. Many have expressed a desire for a pretty traditional format. More, in so much of the research they are defined as very like the Silents and Boomers .. sometimes even the GI gen.
Maybe the research doesn’t agree on Millennials just as it doesn’t on any of the gens when it comes to conferences.
Interesting point Joan. Here’s my question for you, are you talking to Millennials that go to conferences or those that don’t? I don’t think this fits for those that are in the hospitality industry or seeking a profession there. I find that my nephews all resemble these trends and don’t want to attend a conference that’s like school or traditional at all. The same thing is happening with institutionalized faith organizations as Millennials are not attending at all. Will be interesting to watch ten years from now.
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