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The need for face-to-face meetings will never go away

By: Tracey Bockhop, CMP

With schedules maxed out it is sometimes difficult to justify leaving for a few days to better ourselves. We have consumed our days with so many things for others that we forget to take time for ourselves to learn and grow as individuals. Interactions have changed so much over the years, but one thing has kept the same; meetings are important. The principal behind them doesn’t change. Meetings bring people together to network, continue education and grow as individuals and teams. We all need time to reflect and grow our skills, which is one reason why meetings will never go away.

The U.S Travel Association created the Meetings Mean Business Coalition back in 2009 to showcase the incredible value that business meetings, travel and events bring to the U.S. economy. As a planner it is difficult to understand why a coalition needs to be formed in order to show the value of meetings, but with all that an organization needs a budget for, we have to be advocates for the industry and fight for the importance that meetings bring to employees, members and businesses.

Earlier this month, I was reminded how important it is to go to a live event. I embarked on my yearly trip to the Meeting Professional International (MPI) 2014 World Education Congress (WEC). Although it took me out of the office from Saturday through Wednesday; the time away was rejuvenating and engaging. The numerous keynote speakers shed light on how meetings are changing and how to adapt them to fit with the changes all around us.

Dr. Deepak Chopra taught us the importance of healthy indoor environments for the home, office and meeting spaces to focus on a healthier life. Laura Schwartz, former White House director of events, reminded us how to be in the moment to increase our value in business meetings, client lunches, conference calls, as well as social events and even sitting at the family dinner table.

My greatest takeaway was from Kevin Kirby, 2014-2015 chairman of MPI’s International Board of Directors. He spoke on how “virtual communication may be the new norm but it will never replace face to face meetings”. With so many opportunities for quick, virtual, mobile, and often times, disengaged communication, we do have to take a step back to live in the moment, cherish what we have been given and embrace what’s to come. Face-to-face meetings are not only important for the economy, but also our overall wealth as a human being.

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