What were you doing on Super Bowl Sunday? Some 2,100 members of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) were in a ballroom at the Orlando World Center Marriott listening to Gladys Knight deliver an inspiring keynote address (in words and song) to open MPI's Professional Education Congress.

And thanks to an opening night reception sponsored by Walt Disney World-complete with big-screen televisions-no one missed the game, either.

A highlight of the meeting: the "second general session," which featured Jennifer James, Ph.D., an anthropologist and author whose humor, intelligence, clarity, and relevance were unmatched. Speaking on "The Next 25 Years," James advised the meeting executives in the audience to "plan conferences so you're always stretching people," offering them content with depth, not breadth. The goal: to build the "emotional intelligence" of your attendees, allowing them to "let go of the old story and welcome in the new story" as we speed into the next century.

Stories, she explained, are the only way to organize the vast amounts of data that we have to manage today. James acknowledged money, power, creativity, and innovation as motivators, "but only in the context of an understandable story." Who is telling the story? Meeting planners and business leaders-but they must do it convincingly and model it as well.

More news from MPI: * Gap Analysis completed An 18-month study to measure and define the gap between what corporate meeting executives think they're offering and what corporate meeting attendees think they're getting, commissioned by the MPI Foundation, has been completed. The numbers are being crunched, but no target date has been set for the release of results. According to Weldon Webb, MPI Foundation Chair, the study's ultimate goal is to develop standards for content. "Right now there is a lot of money invested in meetings, and it's not doing what it's intended to do," he said.

* Global Paragon winners announced Express Personnel Services of Oklahoma City took top honors in the Global Paragon awards, Category 1 (less than $1,000 per attendee). Jennifer Anderson, CMP, advertising/promotional events manager, accepted the award along with Dave Gulloghly, the company's president and COO. Interface, Inc. of LaGrange, Ga., along with its meeting partners Strategic Events International and Light & Power Productions, took top honors in Category 2 (more than $1,000 per attendee). Colleen Isom, corporate meeting manager, accepted the award along with Charlie Eitel, the company's CEO. The Global Paragon awards are given annually in recognition of meetings that best deliver on their companies' goals.

* MPI recently chartered the Aloha Chapter, its 59th. The Aloha Chapter encompasses the entire state of Hawaii. Delia Chang, CMP, president of ProMeet in Honolulu, was elected its first president.

* Michigan State University has become MPI's academic partner for the Certification in Meeting Management (CMM) program. The curriculum will be developed by MSU faculty along with MPI staff and volunteers. A five-day, residential program will be offered at the Kellogg School on MSU's East Lansing campus. Candidates who go through the program will get a certificate of completion; those who pass a subsequent test will achieve certification in meeting management. The first course, to be held in September, will cost $995, plus $250 to take the test. While not a continuation of the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program, administered by the Convention Liaison Council, CMP certification will help a meeting professional qualify for the CMM program.

* The partnership between MPI and the Disney Institute is being extended to MPI chapters. Anna Lee Chabot, CMP, president of MPI, and head, meetings and assemblies section, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in Ottawa, announced that The Disney Keys to Meetings Success, an exclusive three-hour seminar led by Disney Institute facilitators, will be making its way to MPI chapter meetings following its introduction to MPI chapter education chairs in May.