VA Voice - March 14, 2017 Print


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April Speaker Spotlight!
Conference Refugees
by Josh Packard

This past summer I had the honor of speaking on the mainstage at Influence 2016, the annual summer conference for the National Speakers Association. It was a thrill to get to bring my message to this audience, and I had a great weekend talking with everyone about why people are leaving traditional institutions, how to bring them back with more opportunities for authentic participation and how to create interactive events.

One of the things that stuck out to me to most from this experience was that even professional speakers want conferences that are more participatory and interactive! In the first days of the conference I started doing some background research, talking with speakers that I was sitting next to about why they come and what they like about Influence. Every one of them said that they really liked the networking aspects and enjoyed the interactive sessions best.

Take that in for a moment. A conference full of professional speakers wants LESS speaking and more interaction. One can only imagine how that extends to regular participants.

Actually, we don’t have to do too much guessing to figure out why this is the case. Applying just a little bit of sociological thinking reveals some surprising patterns that planners would do well to pay attention to as they consider the future of meetings and associations.

Take, for example, the core lesson from sociology that belonging together precedes believing or acting together. That is, people must feel like they are a part of a community before they will ever act as a collective group. This is a fundamental lesson for the meetings industry. If you want to inspire loyalty and repeat business, you must be working to build authentic community. Radical hospitality and a spirit of welcoming should be at the heart of everything you do.

When we forget this fundamental dynamic of human behavior, we end up treating a series of symptoms that are just off-shoots of people feeling like they do not belong. We try to get people out of the hallways and into the sessions, we try to get more dynamic speakers so people stay off their phones and attend general sessions, we spend enormous amounts of time and money booking flashier venues to coerce people to make the trip. We’re trying to inspire action without community, and that is a losing proposition. At best, we just delay the decline.

If we can remember that people must belong together before they’ll act together, our perspective and focus shifts onto the things that really matter. I’m excited to be speaking at MPI-Virginia’s April meeting to share more research and insights that matter to the meetings industry.

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Upcoming Events

MPI Virginia April Monthly Education Meeting - Global Meetings Industry Day
Conference Refugees: Why the Hallway is More Appealing than the Ballroom
April 6, 2017 | 11:00am

Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg - Williamsburg, VA

MPI World Education Congress - WEC 2017
June 19 - 22, 2017
MGM Grand - Las Vegas, NV

MPI Virginia CMP July 2017 Bootcamp
July 17 - 18, 2017
Virginia Tech Richmond Center - Richmond, VA

MPI Virginia Annual Education Conference & Awards Dinner
August 16 - 18, 2017
Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront - Virginia Beach, VA

CMP Conclave
November 13 - 15, 2017
MGM National Harbor - National Harbor

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MPI – VA Chapter Member Profile -  Wendy Baldwin

Name: Wendy Baldwin

Organization: The Boars Head

Title: Executive Sales Manager                                                                   

Best thing about job:  Meeting new people every day.                                       

Volunteer positions: Nominating Committee MPI-VA           

Event horror story: Planned a last minute outdoor wedding in July. The initial wedding venue was lost in a fire weeks prior to the wedding. A storm was predicted. There was a rain backup plan in place, however the bride refused to move the event indoors when requested.  She was insistent this event would go as planned, outdoors. After begging her to move the event indoors with no luck, we moved forward with the initial plans. During the wedding a storm blew through, with heavy rains and lightning. Her guests were all forced inside while being completely soaked, and now muddy. Her guests were in the restrooms washing their feet and shoes in the sinks. The guests were not happy of course, setting a mood for her beautiful wedding.    

Hobbies: Hiking, Fishing, pretty much anything outdoors

Husband/Wife/Kids/Pets: My wonderful husband of 15 years, Sidney. Our beautiful 5 year old son, Raylan. Three giant dogs, Thunder (Black Lab), Sasha (Great Pyrenees) and Boss (Bull Mastiff) and two cats.

Pet Peeve:  When people keep talking and they don’t let you have chance. 

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