Fiona Pelham on Global Meetings Industry Day
A few months ago I was having a coffee with someone whose job is to create policy for the finance sector. I couldn’t spend more then twenty seconds telling you what her job role entailed but, interestingly, due to having attended meetings, she felt she understood exactly what I did. For some reason that frustrated me. I think it is because, like most meeting professionals, I understand the work we do is about more than the practical details that she was talking about, such as room set up, food choice, and venue choice.
Global Meeting Industry Day (GMID) is an opportunity for meeting professionals around the world to celebrate the difference they make in the world and raise the profile of the importance of our work. To celebrate #GMID18 I’m sharing 3 trends which I wish I would have shared with the person from finance who thought she understood meetings in the hope that this inspires/ helps other event professionals explain the strategic value of their role; and so I’m ready the next time I meet someone who believes meetings are just practical logistics rather than what they are: inspiring, world transforming opportunities for change.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are becoming increasingly used by business’ around the world. If your job role includes anything about strategy these goals should be a roadmap for you. From the goal of gender equality, to world peace, the meetings industry is vital to bring together the innovators, disruptors, policy makers and everybody else who needs to collaborate to identify potential solutions to meet the SDG goals. These goals are a framework for a world that works for everyone- the level of emotional connection, trust and understanding we get from a 'webinar' or Skype chat is not going to be enough we need to be meeting face to face to create this change.
A meeting creates life changing connections and doesn’t always take place in a hotel, conference centre or office. I’m writing this from the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. My role includes telling the story of the power of events and we have been listening to the many people it takes to create a major sporting event: athletes, spectators, volunteers, suppliers). Every one of them has told us about how much they are enjoying having the opportunity to meet people from around the world (see #humansofthegames to read more). Meetings happen everywhere and they make a difference in people’s lives. Most people don’t realise how much of their lifetime they spend in a 'meeting’ format.
Collaboration is how real change happens and meetings facilitate collaboration. An example of this is the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games who, as they have been preparing their ‘sport meeting’ have regularly engaged with their stakeholders-- local community, supply chain, NGOs, amongst others-- to identify their positive and negative impacts and take action to address them (to read more see here) These meetings have enabled the event and Festival 2018 (a cultural event which runs at the same time as the sporting event) to try new initiatives including banning balloons and straws to reduce plastic in the ocean. This example demonstrates the obvious fact that our planet needs us to keep meeting to identify ways to protect it.
Meeting Professionals create results way beyond enough chairs in the room and the food arriving on time. As Meeting Professionals International say ‘when we meet we change the world’ and Global Meeting Industry Day is our opportunity to ensure the world knows the role we play.