Bridging the Generation Gap

A few years ago it was just kindness that motivated presenters to even consider the generation gap while putting together their messages. Nowadays, key managers at corporations from coast to coast are wrestling with the real day-to-day issue of simultaneously communicating to boomers and millennials.

Each generation has its digs on the other, and it’s easy to forget there are a couple of generations in between worth considering, but there’s no mistaking that these two generations are the principal drivers of culture in and out of the office, and if you want to get things done you have to be able to reach both audiences.

We know: some of you are thinking, “People are people. The principles of communication are eternal!” OK, maybe just a select few of you would think that. But still, why should we adjust, and how?

For the same reasons that spouses often weigh the state of mind of their partner heavily  before making certain requests or entreaties. For the same reason children wait until mom or dad are in a good mood before asking for that prized toy. Most of us, by nature, consider the dispositions and inclinations of the people we’re dealing with when living daily life, but we often fail to translate this practice to the stage.

The body of literature dealing with how to reach boomers, or how to reach millennials, or how to reach so-and-sos and whosie whatsits is never ending. We won’t attempt to enter the fray because, after all, the point isn’t to reach one audience but all of them. Unless, that is, you want to give two different versions of every pitch and try to segment out your audiences each time you’re slated to speak.

Dan Pink, in our opinion, has really given some great high level pointers on which elements of a presentation are truly cross-cultural. Brevity, levity and repetition, he says, are the great equalizers of modern communication. No matter our age, we’re a busy society. No matter our age, we love to laugh. No matter our age, we’re mostly dumb, and need to be told things a lot.

Most of the time, if we speak to the exclusion of others it’s because we ourselves are rooted in a certain culture or sub-culture with little to no exposure to alternative perspectives. Perhaps one of the greatest things we can do for our ability to communicate across every divide is to make an intentional effort to practice the art on people from different ages and backgrounds from our own. In other words, we can look inward forever, trying to guess what the other guy wants to hear and how he wants to hear it. Or we can just ask him.

Question: Do you purposefully forge relationships with people different from yourself in order to improve your overall communication abilities?

New Call-to-action

Join our newsletter today!

© 2006-2024 Ethos3 – An Award Winning Presentation Design and Training Company ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Contact Us