I want to hit home runs when I build events. I want the audience to think: "That was awesome."
But getting to that point means building something that is generationally appropriate to the audience. It means building something that the kids will think is cool.
Perhaps the most important recognition that you have to make in designing a great tradeshow experience is that the experience needs to be relevant. It needs to “connect” with a specific audience.
Let me start by giving you a very simple example. I wrote a speech about a year ago that was designed to speak to Millennials—people about 20-30 years old today. The speech included lots of, well, dancing, jumping around and a video game competition. We even hired a Zumba instructor. For the Millennials in the audience, this was electrifying and fun, because they really like active experiences.
But there were a few Gen-Xers present. A couple of them walked out, while one grumbled “it’s been ten minutes and he hasn’t even showed a PowerPoint slide.”
Here was the rub: in designing a great experience for Millenials, I had unfortunately turned off the Gen-X audience. I wasn’t speaking to them in the way that they are used to being approached. The Millennials loved it (and they were 95% of the audience) but the others didn’t think it was so “cool.”
So a question that I get asked a lot boils down to this: how do you create a great generation-specific experience when your audience contains more than one generation?
Let me give you check-list to consider as you approach your next event:
All of this starts with the audience: who is important to you and how much do you want to connect with them. I strongly believe that you can’t be everything to everyone. You have to get specific to make a connection with your audience. Connecting with the audience is, after all, the way to hitting home runs for them.
Joe English is Creative Director for the Intel Developer Forums at Intel Corporation. Joe is a creative professional, marketer, photographer and writer by trade. In addition to his work on the Developer Forums worldwide, he has recently managed film launches at the Sundance Film Festival, Presidential visits to Intel and led the creative for the re-design of the Intel corporate museum in Silicon Valley.