Training Tips for Multi-generational Engagement

It’s a seemingly normal work day. Slack is up and running, emails are coming in with regularity, and the coffee is freshly made. And then, horror. A notification to come to the conference room arrives. Heart pounding, you enter the meeting space and come face-to-face with a group of attendees only to be told it’s a dreaded... training session. “NO!” Down the hall you run screaming, never to be seen again.

Training sessions aren’t always fun or easy, but they are a necessary function of corporate life. To make matters even more difficult, the audience is usually made up of different generations with diverse engagement needs. So, how do you win the eyes, ears, and admiration of your audience while making an impact? Follow us out of that conference room of misery and into the brightly lit world of generational awareness.

Kick It off with an Engaging Kickoff!

60 seconds… 30... 8… 6… it’s no secret that across generations we’re seeing an ever-shrinking attention span. Opening your presentation in a manner that engages all gens, and quickly, is crucial if you really want to your points to hit home. When kicking off any training, clearly express what makes you the subject matter expert. Baby Boomers will want to know that a proper authority figure is speaking on the topic, and skeptical Xers will appreciate hearing your credentials (without having to ask). Also, consider starting the session in a casual way with a group activity or interactive game. This will fuel Boomers’ and Edgers’ love for competition and Millennials’ desire for collaboration. Of course, to balance this with Xers’ and Edgers’ need for efficiency, make sure to keep the activity short and simple.

Face Time Trumps Facetime

Although virtual training courses are efficient (and super scaleable), they aren’t for everyone. In fact, we hear from many tech-savvy Millennials who’ve taken countless online trainings, and their response is usually some version of “I sped through those suckers as quickly as possible without absorbing much information at all.” It’s clear that tech-based elements like gamification and micro-learning can be effective, but there’s no substitute for seeing the whites of the eyes. Face-to-face trainings simply pack a greater punch in engagement across generations. Millennials value interactive work environments, and in-person trainings will allow them to connect with coworkers. Baby Boomers appreciate the step back from technology and engaging in face-to-face conversations. Gen Xers may have some reservations about the potential “lack of efficiency” associated with in-person trainings, but if you highlight the value of in-person and why this method of training is more effective (and actually might save them time), they’ll jump on board.

Stick that Landing

Want your content to stick like a tongue to a frozen pole á la Dumb and Dumber? Ensure your attendees understand the purpose behind the training session. Knowing WHY the session is taking place and what issues are being prevented or resolved can prevent members of any generation from twiddling their thumbs or scrolling through Facebook. To get everyone on the same page, share real stories about what it is like to be on the frontlines of the company. Give relevant anecdotes detailing the significance of the training advice. Quench Xers’ hatred of useless meetings by prompting them with information and insight into the importance of the training. These skeptics also value transparency; wherever there is a cloak of mystery, they’re less likely to engage. Millennials are fueled by purpose, so show how the training will impact the company as a whole in order to give them a sense that they’re contributing to something larger. For Edgers, appeal to their desire for structure and stability by highlighting the applicability of the session.

These are just a few ways you can increase your audience’s attention and transform a mundane training session into an impactful event. Take these generational tips to heart and put the effort into building an engaging session that will leave people wanting more...or at the very least, leave them feeling that the time away from their regular tasks was well spent.