I’m about to make a bunch of broad statements about twenty- and thirty-somethings. Please don’t take this as the final word on our generation. I just know myself and kind of know the people I hang out/tweet with, so I’m basing these statements on us. I’m no sociologist (though I am greatly interested in their work).
Twenty- and thirty-somethings are really into the Internet. Our generation grew up alongside the online world. We had access to it in elementary school, learned to type by chatting with friends on AIM in junior high/high school, and Facebook was invented while we were in college (or shortly before or after). I’m not sure the exact date Google took over the world, but we know it’s happened, and we embraced it.
The Internet has shaped us in numerous ways, but three things stand out the most.
First, we love information. We read blogs, magazines, tweets, books, newspapers, and news feeds continuously throughout the day. If there’s a speaker we want to hear, we listen to his or her podcast or look them up on YouTube. And we love that. We gulp information all day long and only want more. This means we want to hear what you have to say. With access to so much, we honestly wouldn’t be listening to you if we didn’t. But we’re excited to learn and even more excited to hear your story live and in person. (Story is a big word for us.)
Second, we’re ADD. (Can I use that as an adjective?) We’re so used to getting information any time we want that we hate having to wait for it. We hate having to wait for anything. Next time you stop at a red light, look around. If there’s a twenty- or thirty-something in a car nearby, chances are they’ll have their phone in their hand. They got bored. At a red light. This means we might check our phones while you’re talking. We’re sorry; honestly, it’s more of a habit than anything. If we’re talking one-on-one, you can call us out on it. This also means you may have to work to be a little more entertaining. Tell us stories and make us laugh. (Remember, we like those.)
Third, we believe community is bigger than our neighborhoods or churches. We have intimate connections with people we’ve never met. We also know we can communicate with anyone at the push of a button. When we email/comment/tweet a celebrity or politician, we expect they’ll get it immediately, and we hope they’ll respond. We also tell our community when we like something and when we hate it. We trust our community to tell us the same. This means we’re going to tweet about what you say. Whether we find it funny, wrong, profound, or inspiring, we’ll tell others. Maybe if you’re giving a talk, you could focus on some easily-tweetable points? Maybe do a character count on your main thesis? I’m just throwing some ideas out there.
Another aspect of our community-mindedness is that we now think you’re our friend. Whether you spoke to us one-on-one, or in a crowd of 20,000, we kind of expect you to respond when we @tweet you. Also, it’d be nice if you’d follow us. We may even call you our friend to our community. Don’t worry, though, we probably won’t show up at your house uninvited.
Don’t be intimidated to speak to us and don’t be offended if we check our phones. We may just be quoting you and telling our community how amazing we think you are!
Do you have any other tips for speaking to twenty- and thirty-somethings?
What other observations have you made about this generation?
Elizabeth Hyndman’s day job is at a church. Her night job is grad school. She’s a rare Nashville native who uses lots of parentheses. Keep up with Elizabeth regularly at her blog: edhyndman.com.