By Associate Professor Dr. Adeline Kok Li-Ming (Deputy Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Quest International University)
You often hear parents, teachers and managers saying that it is difficult to reach out to the younger generation. They find the young ones easily distracted, always on their mobile phones and have short attention spans. So how do you communicate with these young ones? Is there a secret formula? There is no magic formula, but let me share with you a few tips to connect with these youngsters.
Before I begin, let’s just get to know this group better. Generation Z is also known as Zoomers or Igen or Centennials. They are born between 1995 to 2010 hence, their age group is between ten to twenty five years old (Francis & Hoefel, 2018). Several studies found that Zoomers learn via kinesthetics, followed by visual and auditory stimulations (Barnes & Nobel College, 2019). Hence, providing practical activities to this group is the best way to engage with them.
In order to communicate and connect the dots with Zoomers, here are three simple tips that that I would like to share:
Tip 1: Craft a story
Everyone loves a good story. Look at how Zoomers create their own stories and follow others on social media. They are very much engaged when they read stories that they can relate to and when the stories are exciting.
In order to connect with Zoomers, you must use their lingo and utilize media that are popular with Zoomers. The trick here is to craft an exciting story that Zoomers would want to follow. You must be able to catch their attention by answering their question of “Why should I care”. The stories must have a sexy headline and several key messages. You can get assistants to help tell your story. The assistance can be in the form of video clips, memes and other apps that Zoomers can relate to. Reaching out to Zoomers via show and tell is also a good idea. Remember, they are active learners and can engage better via demos and practical work.
Tip 2: Deliver an awesome experience
Zoomers do not enjoy performing mundane tasks as they get bored easily, hence you need to give them challenges to enhance their creativity. They enjoy creating and innovating new things and turning imaginative ideas into reality. They are good at generating ideas and can connect complex, unrelated ideas and generate solutions when it comes to something that they are passionate about.
Even though Zoomers are true digital natives, they do still enjoy communicating face-to-face. This is because they gain trust when they communicate in person. Zoomers are also eager to stand out and voice their opinion. In order to ensure that Zoomers learn better, it is best to provide them with practical work that could develop their problem-solving, communication, entrepreneurial, project management and analytical skills.
At Quest International University (QIU), we connect the dots with our communication students via experiential learning. We started a student-run advertising agency, ad.U so that students can work on real world projects with clients and engage with the community. ad.U is a budding full-spectrum advertising agency that provides a broad range of marketing communication services for print, broadcast, and social media to businesses.
Tip 3: Package the material
Zoomers are creative people that have curious minds, are observant and often looking for inspiration. They will model themselves after you if you manage to inspire them. They are always searching for edutainment (education and entertainment), hence they often follow celebrities such as K-pop stars and social media influencers. In order to reach out to Zoomers, you must be able to show that you are an expert and that you can mentor and guide them well. You must also be willing to listen to their point of views. In return, they will respect and be loyal to you. They are also very much influenced by their peers, therefore getting their peers to lead them is also a good idea.
Do motivate Zoomers to go beyond their creative boundaries. As Steve Jobs puts it, “stay hungry, stay foolish”. When they are hungry and motivated to go further, they will push themselves to succeed. With that, you have successfully connected the dots with Zoomers.