Meetings are NOT the problem

April 22nd, 2009

I recently attended the annual conference of the NY chapter of the Meeting Professionals International. It was an excellent meeting to say the least, as it should be a premier event since it is produced by some of the best meeting planners in the industry.

Meetings are part of the solution

The first sign that this was a good event is that every meeting at the conference seemed to have full attendance. In this economically challenged world this alone is a big achievement. Of course every meeting evolved to a discussion about the economy even if it was not supposed to be the primary focus of the meeting – although in many cases the economy was the target topic.

The meeting industry is under siege since the day of the now famous AIG Meeting fiasco. Obama has taken a leading role in making comments about companies accepting tax payer TARP money and not using it for “FUN” business trips . . .  “You can’t take a trip to Las Vegas or down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime”.

Many companies have since canceled many meaningful, important meetings, even if they have not accepted TARP money – to be sure they do not appear to be wasting money on meetings. And some companies have just used it as an excuse to cut meeting and event budgets.

The President’s, along with some high profile senator’s comments have wrongly given the public perception via the negative media mania of the day,  that ALL business meetings are fun and games and a big waste of money. Yes, there are some business meetings that are strictly fun and games, they are called Incentive Meetings. These trips are usually for top company revenue producers, or employees that met big goals or achieved great things for the company. But this is small percentage of meetings and events.

And then there is often a “fun” activity at many meetings and events to give incentives to employees to attend the meeting, because often meetings are NOT fun, but hard, challenging, stressful work! Meetings are big business, because so much BUSINESS gets done at meetings.

I love technology, but nothing can replace the power of a face to face meeting or a good handshake!

A thought that occured to me at the end of this conference having spent a day listening to and meeting with some of the best professional meeting planners, organizers and meeting facilitors in the business, maybe the world . . . Obama should hire an army of Meeting Professionals and put them to work at bringing the Government’s meetings into the 21st century. . . . and maybe then we’d end this financial crisis and move the country forward on other important issues at the pace of today’s digital world.

It’s great to see Obama have the first Presidential Webinar with the public participating in a live in-person audience and via the web. Let’s see him encourage MORE effective MEETINGS that produce results. Maybe he should start at home with the improvement of Senate and Congressional meetings. I know a few good professional meetings planners that he can hire that can turn those ineffective, time wasting, tax dollar supported meetings into efficiently run, effective meetings that will actually produce some results!


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