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How to Communicate with the Next Generation

Last week I was in a conversation with a seasoned (much more seasoned than me) leader and he said that the problem with "young people" today is that they rely on technology too much and we have lost the "art of communicating with one another face to face." He went on to say, "the Youth of today is simply not communicating because their heads are down on their phones all the time "

I found this interesting and also a very popular opinion on the state of the youth these days. 

There is just one major problem with this thinking:

Have you seen how the "youth"are using technology to connect?

It is not what you think. First, let's take a look at what is going on in the world today. In 2016 every 60 seconds the following occurred:

- Twitter has 347,222 Tweets posted

- Instagram has pictures 38,194 posted 

- YouTube has 2.78 million video views 

- Netflix had 69,444 hours of content watched. Netflix also accounts for 1/3 of all internet use in the U.S.

- Spotify has 38,052 hours of music streamed 

- SnapChat has 527,760 photos shared

- Google has 2.4 million searches

- Email:  150 million emails are sent every minute on average across the Internet, according to data from consulting and technology solutions company Excelacom.

If that’s not proof the Internet is huge, for comparison, the U.S. Postal Service processes just 353,000 pieces of mail each minute — that’s about 0.2% the number of emails sent.

The internet is HUGE and vast. This further shows that people are interacting with their phones (where most of this content and services are utilized) to a larger degree than any of us thought possible.

Now, watch the Youth interact with one another. They don't use their phones and technology like you do (old person). They connect using their phones in real time with each other. They are on their phones together. They are photoshopping pictures, editing and shooting short movies and vines, researching with Google, sharing music, and connecting to a higher degree we give them credit for. They connect differently than old people. The wealth of knowledge is being utilized by this generation and they are sharing and communicating.

Leaders today must be cautious to dismiss the young leaders as "unfit" and begin to understand how they are connecting. Most high school students don't even have a facebook account. They say it is for "old people."

Here are 4 ways you can begin to reach a broader audience in today's world.  

1. Learn the Language of the NOW

Learn the technology. Grab a young person to show you. Most of this you can learn just by trying it out. You don't have to fall in love with it but think of it as a tool that can't be ignored. Just like a screwdriver, you will use it when you need it. 

2. Be interesting and unique

No one is going to listen to your message unless you are unique and interesting. Pay attention to the trends going around online. This will help you emulate the vernacular and creativity that those you lead require. For example, did you the word "Dank" is a good thing now. "That Snap Chat Story was so Dank." Go figure. 

3. Find out the best way to communicate (hint: it will be many ways)

Someone once told me the best way to market is face to face. True. But it isn't the only way. What works for one person doesn't work for another in today's world. You will need to ask your audience and then find ways to use all modes communication including; email, texting, Instagram, twitter, snapchat, phone calls all for the same message. 

4. Think ahead/Stay relevant 

What is the next thing: Junior High Students use Instagram which evolves into SnapChat in High School then to Facebook in College. Twitter is in there mixed among ages and only old people make phone calls. So what is the next thing?  Embrace the newest trend because that trend gives you a platform to communicate and lead. Insert 'Pokemon Go' joke.