Bridge Your Generational Divide
“Only the prepared speaker deserves to be confident’” – Dale Carnegie
Have you ever talked to a group somewhat homogeneous in a generation and get a rousing standing ovation at the end of your presentation? And then you give the same talk to a somewhat homogeneous for an audience of a different generation from the first talk and your presentation fall flat. Have you ever wondered why this is so?
Well, different generations view life differently. Your presentation that works well for one generation may not work well for a different generation. Now, even within a generation, there are different view; however, as a speaker, it is important you understand the generation to which you are speaking.
Below are the characteristics of the five generations (from “GENERATIONAL BREAKDOWN: Info About All of the Generations – The Center for Generational Kinetics) and how to approach them in your presentation (from”Unlocking Generational Codes: Understanding What Makes the Generations Tick and What Ticks Them Off, by Anna Liotta)
Leadership Approaches for Generation Z come from “Generation Z Is Here: 3 Simple Tips Leaders Need to Know to Keep Them From Leaving” (INC. Magazine), by Marcel Schwantes
Traditionalists or Silent Generation (Born 1945 and before)
Practical, dedicated and loyal are adjectives that may describe the Silents who tend also to respect authority and work hard
Preferred Approach: Directive, Logical, Authoritative Plan: Clear, Precise, Long-Term Goal Style: Authoritative, Due Respect, Distant
Baby boomers (Born 1946 – 1964)
Competitive, focused and goal-oriented can characterize the Boomer generation. Some describe them as optimistic and disciplined, and strong team players.
Preferred Approach – Consensual, Democratic, Process-Driven. Plan: Work with the “designated” group to define vision/mission. Style: Friendly “equals” open to input from appropriate leadership peers
Generation X (Born 1965 – 1976)
Generation X tends to thrive on a balanced life. They have been described as self-reliant and pragmatic.
Preferred Approach – Competence, Results-Oriented. Plan: Project, Deadline, & Give People the Freedom to get it done. Style: Informal, Genuine, Bottom-Line
Millennials (Born 1977 – 1995)
Hopeful, fun-seeking and ambitious are among the characteristics that have been used to define this generation
Preferred Approach – Collaborative, Experiential, Digital. Plan: Educational, Technically Savvy, “Gamer” Dive-In. Style: Achievement-Oriented, Positive, Fast
Generation Z (Born 1996 – TBD)
Entrepreneurial and tech-savvy are two common characteristics of Generation Z. They tend to want independence and may be motivated by security. Multi-tasking could come naturally for this group.
- Preferred Approach 1. Establish regular check-ins – Data shows that Gen Zers crave face time with their managers to reconnect and reset. Nine out of 10 Gen Zers want frequent, face-to-face meetings with their managers. Weekly check-ins are Gen Zers’ preferred cadence, according to Nintex data. 15Five surveyed 1,000 full-time U.S. workers and 500 U.S. managers earlier this year and according to their data, 90% of employees admit to performing better when their companies support their emotional wellness. But only 40% of managers make a point to ask about emotional wellness in one-on-ones. While past generations may have steered clear of emotional well-being topics at the office, Gen Zers approach the topic without fear. Additionally, 73% of Gen Zers take advantage of their organizations’ employee assistance programs; only 24% of baby boomers do the same.
- Preferred Approach 2. Make a point to discuss emotional well-being. 15Five surveyed 1,000 full-time U.S. workers and 500 U.S. managers earlier this year and according to their data, 90% of employees admit to performing better when their companies support their emotional wellness. But only 40% of managers make a point to ask about emotional wellness in one-on-ones. While past generations may have steered clear of emotional well-being topics at the office, Gen Zers approach the topic without fear. Additionally, 73% of Gen Zers take advantage of their organizations’ employee assistance programs; only 24% of baby boomers do the same.
- Preferred Approach 3. Invest in robust tech tools with a strong user experience (UX). Gen Zers will keep IT departments on their toes. As digital natives, they have high expectations for the technology they use at work. Not all work tools have a simple and stellar UX, and Gen Zers may get frustrated and find ways to work around certain tools. In fact, 4 out of 5 Gen Zers said they’re willing to go against their companies’ app policies if they believe their preference will work better.
The number one task for you as a speaker is to know your audience. Knowing what generations are in your audience and what they like, dislike, what they respond to most favorably, and what “turns them off” is critical to preparing and delivering your presentation effectively.
As the subtitle to Anna Liotta’s book says, “Know What Makes the Generations in Your Audience Tick, and Most Importantly, What Ticks Them Off!”
Call to Action
- Determine well before your presentation what generations will be represented in your audience and in what rough number of each generation
- Prepare and practice the delivery of your presentation that appeals to the generation(s) in your audience
- Don’t project during your presentation the characteristics of your generation unless that is the only generation in your audience
“Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few.” – Pythagoras
DiBartolomeo Consulting International’s (DCI) mission is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence.
Contact DCI at
Office – (703) 815-1324
Cell/Text – (703) 509-4424