Global Meeting Industry Day - why celebrate?

April 14th is Global Meeting Industry Day.

2016 marks the first time this event (launched in Canada over 20 years ago) will be significantly recognised around the world and there are a few reasons why everyone (no matter your profession) should be celebrating the power of the meeting and event industry.

I will be spending Global Meeting Industry Day at an event being held by Meeting Professionals International in Belgium. On my numerous previous trips to Brussels my thoughts have been about the type of chocolate I will be buying in Pierre Marcolini, this visit my thoughts are on terrorism threats. This personal example of how quickly perceptions can change and influence our behaviour is exactly why the world should recognise the power of meetings.

The only access to creating a world that works for everyone is to bring people together to collaborate and innovate. Threats like terrorism can lead to people questioning if they should meet at concerts, sports matches and where is safe to gather.

Last week Meeting Professionals International gathered 270 of their chapter leaders from around the world. The theme of the meeting was “the power of you” and in addition to learning key practicalities to support the execution of MPI’s global strategy the chapter leaders also received empowering education on ‘how to tell anyone anything’, made 270 cuddly toys to gift to local children, and swapped experiences and ideas on running an MPI chapter at a local level. In a world of online education tools, social media and virtual technology you could question why anyone needs to physically attend a meeting like this. It is true the education and practical training content could be delivered online but it is the personal experience of being part of a global community that gives education and training context.

Here are my personal examples of what MPI’s strapline ‘When we meet we change the world’ looked like in reality at this event:

While on an early morning fun run I ran 5k beside a chapter leader from the Potomac Chapter- I’m pretty sure I could ask for her support and input on anything (and she could me) and get it because after you have sweated and kept pace with another runner you have a unique bond.

While doing the CSR project (which involved putting stuffing inside various cuddly animal shapes) I chatted with chapter leaders from Turkey, Belgium and Chicago about the role of our association in discussing global terrorism- that conversation ended with the idea of writing a magazine article and Skyping into each others conferences.

As those two examples show, the power of meetings is the opportunity for unexpected authentic human connections. Global Meeting Industry Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate the power of people when we come together. When we are together we have the opportunity to experience the beauty of other human beings. We have the opportunity to listen to new ideas, to be inspired and share the ideas that inspiration causes. We have the opportunity to be part of a team and share values with people we don’t know by name.

So on this Global Meeting Industry Day as I join a community of meeting professionals in Belgium (the majority of whom their names I don’t know) I do know that we share the value of bringing people together to create a world that works. As I Skype into a Global Meeting Industry Day event in Halifax Nova Scotia, Fredericton New Brunswick, and Ottawa from the event in Belgium I won’t be able to see the audience but I will know that they also share the value of reminding the world of the importance of meeting. Global Meetings Industry Day is the day that event professionals from around the world will be celebrating the power of people when we come together.