by Kimmy Lear | September 28, 2016

Kim LearAs meeting planners, you are constantly on the front edge of emerging trends because you're in the business of creating experiences that tap into the most top-of-mind issues at work and in the marketplace today. It's no easy task to uncover the motivations, behaviors and expectations of hundreds -- sometimes thousands of people.

Amid the many changes that impact relevancy for audiences today, one key trend to keep in mind are the life-stage shifts that impact every generation.

Life-stage shifts
Meeting planners know all about the generations. In fact, you've probably sat through 10 different presentations on the topic, many of which probably reiterated counterproductive stereotypes. It's not enough to understand the generation sitting in the audience, it's also critical to understand the life-stage shifts.

Baby boomers are focused on their encore; Gen X is shaking up the C-suite and stepping into their prime earning years; Millennials are buying homes, having families and stepping into leadership positions; and Gen Z is walking into work for the first time.

So what is each generation looking for as they approach new life stages?

Baby boomers: They are in a time of transformation and exploration. They are curious and anxious to try new things as they embark on the next phase of their lives. Bring them to cities they may have never visited, offer food they have never tasted, plan activities they have never done. Tap into their explorative spirit to re-engage them and create an unforgettable experience.

Generation X: This skeptical generation is hungry for actionable and future-focused content. They are taking the helm within companies and they want real data about what's going coming down the pipeline. Academics, researchers, futurists and content-area experts will work well for a Gen X audience. Avoid motivational speakers. Skeptical Gen Xers don't have the stomach for pump-up speeches.

Millennials: Members of this cohort are stepping into management roles and embarking on a hectic life stage of marriage and kids. The road to leadership has not been without bumps for them. Many Millennial leaders are asking themselves questions such as: How do I establish boundaries with my team? How can I exert control without alienating the group? How can I navigate a hierarchy and continue to move up? Focus on leadership development for content with Millennials. On the personal side, consider adding child-care options at events or going to a resort with a kids program.

The best meeting planners out there are the ones who take the time to truly understand the emotional needs and career needs of today's audiences. By understanding these life-stage transitions, planners can create meaningful and productive events for every generation.

Kim Lear is the founder and content director of Inlay Insights, a company that prepares organizations for the workfoce and marketplace of the future through speaking, writing and research. An in-demand keynote speaker, she is represented by the Goodman Speakers Bureau.