Last week, I was invited to facilitate some communication sessions for the Venture in Management Programme (ViMP) at a globally ranked business school in Africa.

ViMP is an annual mini-MBA programme spearheaded by the nonprofit organisation Junior Achievement Nigeria, with the collaboration of the Lagos Business School and other partners.  It’s a week-long programme introducing promising graduates to crucial management principles and skills to prepare them for rewarding careers. Topics typically include entrepreneurship, business ethics, accounting and finance, strategy, negotiation, and communication.

I started facilitating sessions in the ViMP in 2018 and have found the experience rewarding.

Junior Achievement Nigeria received 950+ applications this year from graduates across  Nigeria, but only 100 made the rigorous cut.

These sharp applicants, with impressive classes of degrees, were recent graduates, roughly aged 20 to 24 years, with zero to a year of post-graduation work experience.

They were members of the often misunderstood Gen Z demographic.

My sessions at this year’s ViMP encompassed interpersonal communication and public speaking. The 100 participants selected were some of the brightest graduates in the country. Therefore, I knew I needed to tweak the content to inspire and coax them to take specific actions.

My sessions were applauded. Participants met me afterwards to seek advice or share their experiences. But more importantly, they were committed to implementing what they learned in class.

So based on the participants’ LinkedIn posts gushing about the top-notch ViMP and what I observed in my sessions, below are three easy steps to connect powerfully with Gen Z.

1) Ensure you address the ‘foundational question’

Two years ago, I introduced the ‘foundational question’  on this blog. I also referenced it in my bestselling business communication blueprint Influence and Thrive.

The foundational question you should ask yourself when preparing your content is simple:

If I were a member of the audience or the recipient, what is the critical information I need to know?

This ‘critical information’ should coax the audience to act.

Now I’ve been blogging for over a decade. And in many articles, articles, I harp on knowing your audience as the first rule of effective communication.

But here’s the thing:

To ‘know’ your audience is not only to research about them (demographic, age range, professional cadre, etc.). You must also ensure that whatever content you share is timely and relevant. Your information should be critical (and not just good to know), so your entire programme will be pointless without it.

For my ViMP sessions, the foundational question ensured I included the following insights in my classes to spur attendees to act:

  • Infographic from the Corporate Recruiters Survey in 2022 supplied by the Graduate Management Admission Council, revealed an interesting statistic. Sixty-one per cent of corporate recruiters listed interpersonal skills as critical to getting a job in 2022. (The ViMP participants were recent graduates, some of whom would begin job hunting).
  • Communication skills, which can be learned and honed, should be displayed on purpose to influence people. (Participants wanted to land jobs in multinationals and global institutions, and excellent communication skills would make them more persuasive).
  • Warren Buffett’s advice: anyone wanting to succeed should invest in themselves and improve communication skills. Buffett referred to graduates and explained that if they learned to communicate better in person and in writing, they would increase their value by 50%. (Attendees appreciated the wisdom from the seventh wealthiest man in the world in August 2022 on how to become successful in life).

The bottom line:

Gen Z is young, smart, ambitious, and eager to impact the world. Therefore, to connect with them, ensure your seminars, workshops, training sessions, etc., address the foundational question. Doing so will help you ‘zero in’ on issues that resonate with them and drive them to action.

2) Create an interactive ambience

My audience was a young demographic, so I ensured my sessions were fun, interactive and had moments of humour.

The classes were also hybrid—with participants physically in the lecture room and others participating remotely. I asked questions to both segments of the audience and encouraged laughter and comments. Then I played two short video clips and introduced an activity where two participants were invited to the front of the class to complete a task.

This is what I’ve learned:

Like any other demographic I’ve interacted with in my lectures, seminars, workshops, and training programmes, Gen Z appreciate variety. Therefore, get them involved in some activity.

In the short clip of one of my ViMP sessions below, note how I engaged with the virtual audience in the discussion and opened the floor for comments and laughter.

Clip of Lucille Ossai’s session on interpersonal communication at ViMP 2022

Make your sessions a relaxed conversation but one where value and helpful information are shared.

Other suggestions for creating an interactive ambience include introducing a group exercise, getting participants to act out a scenario, and having a quick-fire quiz.

Prioritise interactivity and get Gen Z participants to do something in your sessions. This technique will sharpen focus, aid retention, and increase motivation.

3) Be relatable

I relaxed my language and used some informal terms familiar to the audience.

I also varied my body language to include smiling, open arms, more movements towards the audience, and sweeping gestures to include the virtual participants. When interacting with Gen Z, ensure your nonverbal cues exude warmth, which makes you trustworthy. When you generate trust, it’s easier to persuade people to accept your line of reasoning and adopt your recommendations.

If you’re relatable, you can connect with them beyond the class and inspire them further in their journey. I was invited to take a group selfie with some participants immediately after my second session. Even that act was filled with laughter.

Being relatable also makes you memorable. Many of the participants connected with me on LinkedIn soon after and did what Gen Z usually do: They went on social media to give their unsolicited feedback on my communication sessions at ViMP.

Now the participants recounted their experiences from their various LinkedIn accounts and tagged me in their write-ups. But they also took the time to post their comments on my LinkedIn post, screenshots of which are below:

Screenshot 1 of LinkedIn post
Screenshot 2
Screenshot 3
Screenshot 4
Screenshot 5

A note of caution:

I was fortunate that the ViMP participants found my sessions helpful and willingly shared their learning points on LinkedIn.

But feedback could go the other way.

Gen Z people are digital natives and can use their tech skills to gain traction on their posts on social media quickly. So, remember their social media mastery in your interactions with them. If their experiences of you and your programmes are negative, they’ll be sure to storm social media to recount their dissatisfaction. Whether they post complaints on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or other sites, it’s a game of numbers, and you won’t win.

Strive to be relatable and treat them respectfully, and you can be assured of their support afterwards.


My experiences over the years with Gen Z graduates, employees, and business owners can be summarised below:

Be courteous, provide value with relevant content, make your sessions interactive, and remain relatable. Do all these things, and you’ll always be a hit.

Gen Z is the future

Follow the recommendations in this article and realise that your great connection with them will always depend on effective communication.

Over to you:

Do you need help boosting your communication skills to get results? For my free quarterly newsletters, sign up here and learn best practices. When you sign up, you’ll receive my evergreen resource on giving persuasive presentations. Ensure you download that document and refer to it before any high-stakes presentation or speech.

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N.B: First image is courtesy of Vlado via ViMP visuals are courtesy of Junior Achievement Nigeria.  Video of Lucille Ossai in class is courtesy of the author. Image of Lucille Ossai in class is courtesy of Junior Achievement Nigeria. Image of Lucille Ossai with participants is courtesy of ViMP 2022 participants. Screenshots of the LinkedIn post are courtesy of Lucille Ossai. Last image is courtesy of Gerd Altmann via Pixabay.

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