Presenting to Millennials

by Kasia Popiołek Last Updated: 2018.06.18

Millennials, almost like celebrities, are analyzed on a daily basis. Various experts, scientists, professors and research centers have made an attempt to do the cross section of this generation. You can read all about them in corporate reports, blogs and publications. You can learn as much as you desire about how to work with them, what they expect, what they like and where they go. However reading about them is not enough if you want to get them to listen to you.

One of the most challenging things about interacting with Millennials, is making them interested in what you say to the point that they are willing to interact with you and your brand. If you are getting ready for a presentation, speech or an event targeted to this specific audience, make sure you are fully prepared. If you make one mistake, they will be reaching for their phone and disconnecting from you sooner than you might think.

There are four basic matters that can ruin your presentation to Millennials. Let’s divide them into chapters.

A boring start

We have been there so many times already. You have a few seconds to catch the attention of your audience. Seconds, not minutes, note that down. That is why you need to make sure you have your entrance and use the first seconds of certain attention to the fullest. Please, do not start from my name is and I am here to…

People looking at phon

One of the tested ways that work out well is to start your presentation with thought provoking questions or statements to the audience. If you are sceptic about things, you might be criticizing in your head that it is not going to work. Well, it will not work unless you are making audience feel uncomfortable to the point that they start to think about it. Remember that Millennials love to question things and that they are not interested in ordinary so make sure you intrigue them.
Let me give you an example.

I am a Millennial. Last year I was at an event directed to people exactly my age, mainly students from top universities. The whole event was divided into speeches and discussion panels between representatives of different corporations and organizations. One goal was for them to share insights about business and career with students, second, obviously a bit of employer branding. There was not a presentation that I would remember well now, except of one. When every speaker, more or less interesting, was talking about themselves, their company and how their career path looked like, there was one elderly guy, who rocked the microphone.

Whatever question he got in a panel, he would say it does not matter, but what matters is family and having sex. Imagine the attention he got after the whole day of lectures about business to a bunch of young people wearing suits and heels and almost falling asleep. For a start he started counting how many kids we should have to maintain a generation and then he was quickly calculating how much sex we should we have to achieve so. He was talking about this because it was important when he was our age, and that it should be important for us too. It was so weird and unexpected. I even felt a bit awkward, but one year after, his words are the ones I remember the most from the whole event.

My content is poor

If your content is poor, please do not go in to the room full of Millennials. They will notice. What is worst is that they will Tweet about it, review you and your brand on Facebook and tell their friends not to attend any of your events anytime soon. Remember when I wrote that Millennials like to question things? Well they have a reason to do so. Regardless of how they are being judged by other generations, research shows that they have a proper market knowledge and are willing to contribute with it to the conversation.

write for food
‘Content writer’ photo by licensed as CC BY-SA 2.0.

So whatever the topic of your presentation is, make sure you have an overall knowledge about the topic, you have some data prepared just in case and that you know names of reports or publications to back up your statements. Millennials can be very demanding as an audience, but they respect their time and like to spend it on getting things that are actually interesting and real. If you succeed in drawing them into sparking conversation with you, you must have done something right. And even if you feel like they are asking just to ask, not to listen, do not worry. You sparked them enough to fight back.

A while ago I flew over to Estonia to chair an event for youth. I did not know much about the reality or about the audience so at first I was a bit confused. But before my first message I did my research, talked to friends, looked things up online and checked some data. Guess what, some of the students in the audience were so frustrated that I know more data about the country that they do, they started fighting back with questions like why do we need to know this and even if I had a perfect answer they did not ask to listen. But that is alright, because some of the people in the audience were moved and they did not fight back because they were learning.

I don’t know what I am doing with visuals

Presentation coming soon and you have a ready PowerPoint template in your mind? I forbid you to play I-am-not-doing-anything-at-all part. Visual experience that you are providing the audience with matters almost as much as the content does. Especially when your audience is a generation that has definitely mastered usage of technology, including various mobile apps and online tools. They know best that with no skills in photography or design you can create something really beautiful and pleasant to the eye. You just need to hang out at the right tools.

mixed paint

Note that Millennials are esthetic and if you do not believe me, you should check the most followed accounts on Instagram to see. If you have a feeling like a good online tool is not enough to make a designer out of you, it might as well just be true. But do not worry, my generation likes to pretend to be all creative and extensively talented too, you just should follow a simple rule of using maximum 2 fonts and 2 or 3 balanced colors plus one exactly the same filter for all the pictures. Following that rule prevents you from seeming like you took you-don’t-know-what-you-are-doing-with-visuals role

Remember that a visual experience does not end on a screen. You yourself can dress in a matching style or prepare gadgets that are aligned. What adds tremendous value to the good visual experience is also a powerful video or a good music played before, throughout or in the end of the presentation.

I am the bottleneck of my own presentation

I do not mean to be brutal but it will not go right if you are not the right person for this. But here is a bright side, you can to a very far extent become the right person. The most important thing is not to be lazy. Preparation is the key and you can rock the stage only if you minimalize the chance of something going wrong. You are the face of your brand.

Empty Conference Room

Everything matters, your tone, your energy, the richness of your language and your appearance. Do not get me wrong, we are not all supermodels but if you came in front of Millennials to encourage them to work for your company which for example produces cosmetics, but you are a bit sloppy with messy hair, it will not seem too real. The same would be if you come wearing a suit and tie and telling us that in your company you have a pretty loose and easy-going environment. No-no-no.

Final Advice

My final advice would be to not try too hard to be someone you are not, we have the sense of authenticity and that is what we are looking for in people, brands and future employers. Have a stand, a vision, give us something to believe in you, and we will, because that is something that drives us.