How to Plan an Engaging Event with Gen Z Attendees in Mind

What is Gen Z?

Generation Z is the demographic born between 1997 and 2012. As they continue to finish their education and enter the workforce, it has become increasingly important to understand their values and how they think. Here are some important characteristics of Gen Z: 

  • Short attention span

    : With a world full of distractions and overstimulation, the attention span for all generations is shortening. However, Gen Z has the shortest of them all, with an attention span of approximately 8 seconds.
  • Tech-savvy and tech-dependent

    : Gen Zers grew up with the internet and cell phones – and don’t know a world without them! They are very comfortable in the digital space and rely heavily on technology.
  • Competitive

    : Growing up in a digital world where tests are taken and grades are posted online, Gen Z is used to receiving immediate feedback. This creates a competitive environment that this generation has become well-accustomed to.
  • Entrepreneurial and driven

    : There is a common misconception that this generation is lazy; however, they hustle and make money more unconventionally. Gen Z is known for monetizing their hobbies. For example, TikTok influencers support themselves financially by doing what they love, whether it’s makeup, shopping, cooking, exercise, etc.
  • Advocate for work-life balance

    : Unlike previous generations that are more career-focused, Gen Z recognizes the importance of a work-life balance and prioritizes enjoying their leisure time. This generation focuses on how work fits into their life, not the other way around. For this reason, Gen Z prefers hybrid or remote work environments where they do not work the standard 9 to 5.
  • Value communication and interconnectedness

    : Gen Z understands the value of a network and the importance of in-person interactions. Although this generation is always connected to their peers through social media, they value face-to-face interactions even more, which is why FaceTime is so popular. Communication is important to Gen Z; they value authentic communication and spontaneity.

    Take the popular app, BeReal, for example. This app sends a daily notification that prompts users to share a photo of themselves and their immediate surroundings within a randomly selected two-minute window every day. It is no secret why BeReal has become Gen Z’s new favorite app.
  • Value transparency, purpose, and authenticity

    : For other generations, brand loyalty comes from the status associated with a brand name. Gen Z is very different in that their brand loyalty stems from a brand’s values, their impact, what they stand for, and how their actions support those values. Gen Z seeks out companies that share their values and can be easily influenced by those companies. For example, Gen Z tends to support cruelty-free, diverse, and sustainable brands.

7 Tips to Engage Gen Z Event Attendees 

Although Millennials currently dominate the professional world, they won’t for long. According to Carisa Bartlett, Cvent’s Product Marketing Team Lead, Gen Z will represent 27% of the global workforce by 2025 and it will only increase as the years go on. Gen Z will make a significant and purposeful impact on the workplace and, therefore, corporate events – and already have in some ways. 

To maximize the event experience and engagement for this up-and-coming generation, our team has put together some tips to consider when planning an event with Gen Z in mind. 

  1. Prioritize visual and snackable content in sessions

    It is no secret that Gen Z has a short attention span so it’s important to keep sessions or speaking portions at your event short and sweet. During sessions, prioritize visual content, especially those that are easy to digest, rather than complex and lengthy slides or videos. Videos have proven to be especially effective in keeping Gen Z’s attention so use video content in sessions when possible.
  2. Integrate unique experiences

    To keep Gen Z engaged in your event, it is crucial to differentiate it from similar events by offering unique experiences they haven’t seen before. Be creative with your venue, décor, entertainment, and speaker selection, especially for special or evening events within a larger program. Your event should be a customized and exclusive experience that isn’t available anywhere else. If not, Gen Z will lose interest and seek unique experiences elsewhere. With the internet and apps like TikTok, these experiences can be found easily, especially in large host cities with many attractions and distractions.
  3. Make your event shareable

    Gen Z loves to share their life on social media and your event should be something they want to share with their network. Create an aesthetically pleasing event setup, offer unique entertainment, utilize geotags, and provide numerous photo opportunities like branded backdrops, marquee letters, and photo booths. The more photos and videos attendees share of your event, the more engaged they are and the more interested others in their network will be to attend your event in the future.
  1. Offer plenty of opportunities for collaboration and networking

    Gen Z values human connection and collaborating with others, so keep this in mind when choosing an event venue, building your agenda, and selecting session structures. Human connection, networking, and collaboration can be difficult through a screen, so in-person events have proven to be more effective in engaging Gen Z.

    This generation does not want to sit and listen all day; they want to actively participate in the conversation. Allow optimal time for Q&A during sessions and think through ways that attendees can easily submit discussion questions to be involved and start discussions. Gen Z understands the value of a network, so create an environment with plenty of opportunities to expand them. Use an event mobile app with messaging features, choose an event venue with hubs for networking, and offer formal networking sessions or evening events like welcome receptions that provide optimal opportunities for natural networking.

    If your event is virtual or hybrid, it is important to find ways to encourage one-on-one discussions, such as through virtual networking sessions and online Q&A. Whether in-person or online, engage Gen Z attendees by allowing them to build on their connections at your event.
  2. Gamify your event

    One of the best ways to engage Gen Z attendees is to inspire them to get involved and actively participate in the event. Offer photo contests, engagement leaderboards on your mobile app, and scavenger hunts, either in-person or virtually, that your attendees can be involved in and win prizes. Gamifying your event, especially through digital means, will keep attendees connected and engaged throughout the event by playing off their competitive spirit.
  3. Show how your event is making a positive impact

    Gen Zers value purpose and are loyal to companies that are sincere in their efforts to positively impact the world around them. Gen Z is much more concerned with their impact compared to other generations. It is important to show this generation that you are thinking about the greater impact your event will have.

    Integrate a giveback activity into your agenda, feature impactful topics and inspiring speakers, and implement environmental sustainability measures, such as leveraging a mobile event app to show Gen Z attendees the steps you are taking to have a positive impact. Sincerity and authenticity are also important to Gen Z, so sustainability efforts at your event should align with your company values. It may be useful to include a page on your event website describing your company values and corresponding efforts during the event.

    The more Gen Z attendees align with your values, the more engaged in the event they will be. For more tips on integrating sustainability into your next event, check out our blog “Sustainable Events: Top Tips & Ideas to Increase Sustainability at Events.”
  1. Account for attendee’s work-life balance

    Gen Z’s priority is work-life balance, so the event must fit into their life. Keep your event at reasonable hours, and avoid weekends, holidays, and religious observances when selecting the date or dates for your event. For multi-day events, such as conferences, ensure you build in time for experiences. Offer sightseeing tours, optional offsite activities, or suggest things to do in the host city on your event website to cater to the Gen Z work-life mindset.

With their increasing presence, Gen Z is beginning to make up a larger portion of the attendees and target audience for corporate events. It is more important than ever to understand Gen Z and their values so you can strategically engage them in your next event.

Castle can help you engage Gen Z (and all other generations) at your next event.

Reach out to a member of our events team to learn more. 

The Castle Group, Event Coordinator, Jenna DiMartinis
Written By: Jenna DiMartinis


Outdoors of the Castle Group office