As a keynote speaker, I attend a lot of conferences. A question I get asked often by meeting professionals and attendees is, "Will the emerging generations attend conferences?"
While the meeting industry has had steady growth over the past couple years, it remains to be seen whether or not Millennials and Generation Z--as they settle into their respective industries and careers--will place the same value on attending conferences as past generations.
What is the value proposition of conferences to the next generation of socially-connected, ultra-distracted, supercomputer-wielding conference attendees?
Back when a majority of people were farmers, their wants, needs, and challenges were similar which made it highly valuable to convene with others. Today's 21st-century workforce is much more interdisciplinary. How can a conference appeal to the next generation professional who may have varied titles of Lead Web Designer, Videographer, and Professional eSports Player?
As it becomes more challenging to assemble groups of people with similar wants, needs, and challenges...how can conferences satisfy the next generation attendee?
The answer is convergence.
Converge what once was separate and seemingly unrelated. Converge new with old, festivals with conferences, high-tech with no-tech, agriculture with artificial intelligence. Allow Millennials and Generation Z to explore the frontiers of their ignorance.
Interdisciplinary professionals require multidisciplinary learning.
The goal of convergence is to have attendees discover new solutions or inspiration from unlikely sources that can be applied to their career or industry. Blending great minds, ideas, experiments, lessons, culture, tech, and art together in a creative and collaborative environment will be the new recipe for innovation.
Innovation becomes the byproduct of the diversity of thought that convergence creates in the mind of the conference attendee.
If Millennials and Generation Z want to propel their careers, organizations, or industries forward they are going to have to upend the prevailing models that are likely holding them back. As I wrote in Why Generation Z Is the Key to Company Innovation, it's critical to "listen to those outside of your organization, industry, and generation" because outsiders aren't bound by the same assumptions and prevailing models that are likely to hold individuals and industries back.
By converging different ideas, views, environments, etc., conferences can deliver the outside perspectives that attendees don't know they desperately need...they'll walk away from a conference pleasantly surprised and equipped to make a change.
As a Millennial and Generation Z keynote speaker and trainer, I help companies lead, engage, and sell to the emerging generations. If you'd like help solving tough generational challenges inside your organization, click here.