5 Reasons Millennials Hate Meetings--and How to Engage Them

empty office - 370

Have you noticed that younger people in meetings are more likely to be on their laptops than listening to your PowerPoint? Don't blame them--blame the meeting.

By 2020, nearly half (46 percent) of U.S. workers will be Millennials. It's no secret that this generation of office worker likes things done differently -- and that includes meetings. Reaching younger attendees requires building a philosophy around creating a "meaningful meeting." This enables meetings to establish trust among participants and get to the core of the business at hand through discussion. The principles align to common challenges that companies find in engaging Millennials in the workforce.

Here are five ways to accomplish this.

1) Break down generational gaps that separate workers. All told, 38% of Millennials in the workforce say that older senior management and leadership do not relate to them. This doesn't bode well for meaningful, productive meetings if you have workers of several generations. At LivePerson, we do several things to connect workers. At the top of a meeting, for instance, before you get into the content at hand, try a Connection Exercise. I don't mean your run-of-the-mill, get-to-know-you icebreaker. I mean pose a question to the group that will reveal something about the participants and get everyone a little out of their comfort zones. A good example of a question would be, "What crossroad do you face right now, either at work or in the rest of your life?" You'll be amazed how people let their guard down and share.
2) Make room for everyone's voice.
 You can miss some great ideas from the tech-savvy, Mashable-reading brains of younger teammates if they are always overpowered by more senior-level people. Likewise, you can have a young hotshot who won't give up the floor. Break larger meetings into discussion groups of three to four, then ask to develop takeaways for the larger group. Small groups create more chances for all points of views to be shared and heard. Keep in mind that a whopping 88% of Millenials prefer a collaborative environment over a competitive one.
3) Find engaging presentation tools.
 A series of boring non dynamic slides can evoke memories of stale classrooms. But don't ditch PowerPoint just to appease Millennials. Instead, make your presentation dynamic and pose discussion topics that support the presentation. You will better share your point of view and get feedback from the crowd.
4) Challenge Millennials.
 New people can always bring positive change. If you have to present, challenge your younger staff to rethink how the information is presented. Take advantage of their eyes and ears on the pulse of how information is shared and digested and try it on your own content. Only 28% of Millennials think that their companies are tapping into all their skills. By giving them room to share and explore, you just might uncover an innovative way to get your message heard. At LivePerson, we challenged presenters at our customer conference to try different formats.

5) Don't under appreciate what Millennials bring to the table. A full 41% of millennial workers want to be recognized for their work on a monthly basis. At LivePerson, we encourage our leaders to conclude meetings with "Gift Conversations." They allow participants to acknowledge the contributions and insights brought forward by individuals. This is a great tool to provide all generations a forum to think about the importance of different points of views and to create a better sense of team. Implementing these techniques takes some practice and might catch attendees off guard. Your youngest workers will appreciate better connection. They may even put down their smartphone to focus on the people and topics at hand.

Erin Kang is Director of Corporate Communications for LivePerson, a digital and mobile messaging company based in New York. Her mission at LivePerson is to help foster meaningful connections between the company and the community at large.