According to a recent Gallop survey, "[Millennials] are more likely to communicate using newer technologies." Surprised?

Of course you're not.

For many Millennials, offline--especially face-to-face--communication seems archaic and outdated since mass communication via a text or tweet can happen in a few thumb flicks. (Here are five specific reasons Millennials won't answer your phone call.)

The way people communicate varies by generation. The complexity of varying communication preferences based on age has caused real tension in today's workplace. (Read this for a specific strategy to bridge the Millennial and Baby Boomer communication gap.)

It's alarming how many clients share with me how often Millennials miss opportunities for promotions or closing the sale due to their lack of face-to-face communication skills.

A blended communication skill set of high-tech and high-touch would serve any generation well today. However, the biggest communication gap seems to be Millennials communicating face-to-face with previous generations that value such an interaction. For Millennials who want to maximize their influence, they must become double threats and connect with others effectively online as well as genuinely offline. 

Whether it's a meeting, presentation, or group discussion, every face-to-face communication is a ripe opportunity to make an impression and solidify a connection. In order to elevate their influence, Millennials should apply these five rules when engaged in face-to-face communication.

1) Be prepared. 
Face-to-face communication deserves forethought. You'll waste your time and other's if you schedule a meeting and don't know the direction or purpose of the communication. Before the face-to-face communication, gather your thoughts and establish the purpose and desired outcome. 

2) Be present.
Face-to-face communication deserves full attention. Much like driving a car, if you allow your mobile device to distract you, the likelihood of veering off course increases dramatically. Stay focused on the conversation at hand. Preparedness and intentional note taking will help you stay present. Diffuse the urge to multi-task by getting caught up on email, texts, and social media prior to the face-to-face communication. Do not check your phone unless you are expecting an urgent message at which point communicate the urgent need up front before conversing.

3) Be attentive.
Face-to-face communication deserves full participation. Great conversation is like a tennis match. One person serves up their thoughts and the other reciprocates, back and forth, back and forth. To successfully hit the ball over the net, you must pay close attention to the communicator's words, body language, and tone of voice. Resist the urge to hijack the conversation with personal stories or anecdotes. Instead add to the dialogue with strong eye contact, clarifying questions, head nods, and a smile.

4) Be concise.
Face-to-face communication deserves brevity. Building rapport with small talk can be helpful but limit it to less than a few minutes. Put a time limit on the conversations so you both can stay on point. Preparation will enable confident and clear communication, and those whom you communicate with will appreciate your focus and clarity. 

5) Be respectful. 
Face-to-face communication deserves appreciation. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him." Great advice. No matter who you come face-to-face with, know that they can teach you something. Respect their perspective and appreciate their experience and learn from it.

Face-to-face communication remains a critical skill set and if used correctly can make anyone (especially Millennials) rise above the rest.

Published on: Apr 19, 2016