CCIL hosted their first ever free seminars on Thursday, October 14th and Wednesday, October 20. In just a few short months, our team was remarkably successful in pulling together business professionals and academics from a variety of backgrounds for two extremely informative and interactive events.
A big thank you must go out the panelists; Azure Collier, Manager of Integrated Media and Alumni Relations at WPI, Alicja Januszewicz, Global Training Manager for Boston Scientific Labs, and Jose Ramirez, Sr. Director of Diversity at UMASS Memorial Health Care. These folks knew their stuff!
The topic for discussion was Generational Communication Preferences – Tools, Technology and Time. The introductory remarks provided by skilled CCIL Leader, Mary Piecewicz, grounded the audience with the generational differences documented by the literature. A notable takeaway from this introduction was that communication preferences are not linear. For example, in regards to hierarchy and authority, Traditionalists and Millennials are more responsive to authority followed by Boomers and then Gen-X’s, who would prefer to make their own rules. That being said, the one area that clearly does follow a linear progression is around communication preference. Traditionalists are the most comfortable with face to face communication, followed closely by Boomers with Gen-X’s and Millennials being increasingly comfortable with communication in virtual environments.
Following the introduction, the panelists then enlightened the audience with their immense knowledge of the subject through their response to skillful questions posed by founder of CCIL and Fitchburg Communication Professor, John Chetro-Szivos. Key takeaways from this discussion included the need to focus on balance when selecting communication tools, the importance of the right content, and most importantly, selecting the right tool or vehicle for your intended audience.
The panel members came with varied backgrounds and organizational experiences surrounding the use of technology in their communication. However, they all were very clear in their message that no one method (Print, Email, Social Media, or Face time) is the solution to ensuring effective communication. Especially when communicating across generations. It was also clear that the proliferation of communication tools within the last decade is clearly having an impact on even the most conservative and highly regulated industries, especially in the realm of employee training and development.
Caution was suggested however, in focusing too heavily on the tools of communication. Jose Ramirez made note that it is most important to first insist on disciplined content and messaging and then communicating through whatever communication channels are preferred by a particular audience. He also suggested that due to the ease and speed of today’s communication tools that communication may be becoming too causal. The freedom that has come from the ability to self publish, which Azure Collier noted to be one of the most influential communication developments, must be treated with care.
The concluding period for audience questions stimulated discussion that touched on many issues. The benefits and drawbacks of communication technology were discussed at some length through a variety of lenses.
At the end of two great nights, this communication student went home with an ever growing appreciation that despite drawbacks, communication advancements are here to stay and thus it is more important than ever to commit to staying current on the latest trends, developing balanced communication strategies that are audience focused, and producing quality content for all generations.
by Robin Frkal