Training for Millennials and Beyond
Every generation is different. They each grow up experiencing different cultural shifts and advances in technology that affect everything from the way they live to the way they learn.
Over the last couple of years, training has been focused on how to engage Millennials as the up-and-coming generation—and the one that began the shakeup in traditional training methodology. The trend is going to continue beyond Millennials with future generations and it is important that we, as training professionals, continue to adapt and nurture them in their learning.
Training Millennials makes for a great, high-energy session. We must realize a couple of things that make this event very different than a normal training event. In fact, it should not be a training event at all—it needs to be an experience for them.
Preparing for the Experience
So how do you create that experience? Here are some things I’ve found to be invaluable when preparing to train:
1. Create visuals: Visual aids are a must. But don’t set it up so all you’re doing is reading the exact same thing that is written on the PowerPoint slide. PowerPoint slides are still great visual aids, but that’s what they are—aids. You should share examples or real-world stories that complement the slides, as well, and remember: The PowerPoint should never take the place of the presenter.
If you can include video clips, you will now be talking Millennials’ language. Any video clips you use should not be longer than two minutes, or you risk having their attention drift away.
2. Stay current and relevant: Keep the information you are presenting in bite-sized bits and be prepared to be interrupted with questions. Millennials are used to technology (more on that in a moment) and could use their mobile device to verify your opinions and answers. Ensure you have the correct information in order to retain your credibility with them since they could be fact checking you.
Sometimes, if we are not part of the generation we are training, we tend to use their words or slang in an effort to fit in and build rapport. But this can have the opposite effect, and you could look out of place or make a comment that comes across as politically incorrect. Make sure to review your presentation and notes to remove any dated references. Speaking of being dated…
As the presenter, you must be up to date with the information you are going to deliver and speak to. Make sure you let participants know where your data came from and share links to different articles. Millennials are curious and will challenge you to verify your data.
3. Include technology: Incorporate technology into your training and allow participants to use it. Make them research the answers and share them with their peers. They like collaboration and group research, as well. Asking Millennials to share information they have researched is a great training tool, and it gives you the chance to offer positive feedback.
4. Set expectations: Once you’re in front of everyone, you should explain why everyone is together and, specifically, how this event will benefit them (this is the “me” generation). If they understand this point, the event will go smoother. So cover the goals and the whys and hows from the beginning.
5. Be flexible: According to some studies, the human attention span is at its lowest point ever. Easy to believe with the ease of finding information and how quickly we can jump from Website to video to e-mail and so on. So keep in mind that your participants will tend to get bored if the same subject is covered for more than a few minutes.
Sometimes agendas are difficult to follow because their participation and questions will take you down different roads. This is fine; the order is not always as important as the content you want to cover.
6. Encourage participation: Millennials like and use e-learning. It works on their time and at their speed and can be stopped and continued at their leisure. However, you’re live and in person. Remember to take breaks, change subjects, and check for understanding so you can give them positive feedback. Add role-play, have face-to-face interactions, include activities that utilize their electronic devices, and appeal to them by leveraging nonverbal communications.
If your training event includes participants from many different generations, challenge the Millennials to assist those who might not feel as comfortable with technology.
Answer whatever question is presented to you on the spot. The old “parking lot” system is no longer the best way to handle questions that are posed and can’t initially be answered. You must keep up with the questions and keep the attendees engaged.
Make It Fun!
In closing, check often for understanding among the participants and allow them to be themselves. One thing I really enjoy in working with Millennials is that things are not black and white for them. They are all presented with the same information, and each person could interpret it in a different way. Finding mutual ground to collaborate makes the challenge positive, and they will give you feedback that just might surprise you.
As a Signature Worldwide Training account manager, Rafael Perez Otero energizes clients who may also have language barriers that lead to service gaps in training. He is certified to deliver Signature programming in both English and Spanish, which allows participants to be fully engaged and exposed to how impactful the training can be for their properties and roles. Otero’s background includes a diverse company and property level array with a range of properties throughout the United States. He has provided Signature training services for 12 years, and his his ability to relate to the new and ongoing demands that Signature’s clientele encounter daily provides an opportunity for him to coach and personally expand upon these during interactive training sessions.