It was an honor to recently serve as the professional emcee for the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Top of the Table Annual Meeting 2021 in the beautiful Amelia Island, Florida! This event was packed with firsts, both for myself and the MDRT team. I could not wait to hop off stage to pen a post about this one-of-a-kind hybrid event that hit every single nail on the head!
This was MDRT’s first-ever true hybrid event and it was executed flawlessly. More than 800 attendees tuned in from 35 countries around the world. Even more, this was my first event where the program was translated into seven different additional languages in real time! From the worldwide connections we forged to the fantastic agenda, this event covered every base, including:
- Hybrid event emcee
- Video and tech support
- Engagement specifically for a hybrid audience
Take a look at why it was a pleasure to serve as the hybrid event emcee for the Top of the Table Annual Meeting, and the perfect choices the MDRT event producers made along the way.
1. Location That Embraces the Global Theme
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: An awesome event starts in an amazing location! Certain places just have inherent magic to them, like New York City, Las Vegas, and apparently, Amelia Island! For those who are unfamiliar, Amelia Island is situated steps away from the Atlantic Ocean on the northeast coast of Florida. The beaches are spectacular and the land is bursting with history.
Dating back more than 400 years, Amelia Island has served under eight different flags since its founding—making it the perfect location for such a global event! Even more, this was an area I’d never been to before, which is pretty rare considering how often I travel for work. That being said, there’s nothing I love more than exploring new places, so this location knocked it out of the park.
2. Accommodations with All the Bells and Whistles
When you think of a five-star hotel, what comes to mind? For me, it’s the Ritz-Carlton. So, you can imagine my delight when I learned the accommodations for the Top of the Table Annual Meeting was the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island! I mentioned in my roundup of the EO XCentric 2021 Showcase that the Ritz is one of my favorite places to stay, but this particular Ritz was truly stunning.
To be honest, this was one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever been to! Aside from being a phenomenal backdrop for guests to rest and recharge, the hotel itself also served as an awesome icebreaker. When a venue is as special as this beachfront property, it naturally brings people together. I couldn’t keep track of how many people I heard raving about the views, the accommodations and the amenities.
3. Speakers That Engage a Hybrid Audience
Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) is a global independent association of the world’s leading life insurance and financial services professionals. Members of this organization belong to more than 500 companies across 70 nations and territories. It’s a true privilege to speak for such a respected group of peers, and the individuals selected to speak at the event lived up to the expectations.
Here’s a quick glimpse of the speakers that wowed the audience at the Top of the Table:
- Sara Ross, a phenomenal keynote speaker and Chief Vitality Officer at BrainAMPED, a leadership research and coaching firm.
- John Sileo, a cybersecurity expert, award-winning author, and National Speakers Hall of Fame keynote speaker.
- Benjamin Zander, an English conductor and current musical director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
- Vera Jones, a former Women’s Basketball Commentator for ESPN turned inspirational keynote speaker after guiding her young son through a brain tumor and blindness.
- Eileen McDargh, an award-winning motivational speaker, executive coach, and founder of The Resiliency Group.
- Ron Insana, a financial expert, contributor to CNBC, and host of The Market Score Board Report.
Effective speakers are the key to a successful hybrid event, and let me tell you, the above folks certainly delivered! It’s worth noting that Benjamin Zander gave a brilliant virtual keynote from his home studio in Cambridge, MA. Benjamin was incredibly engaging, even through a digital screen, and his passion was evident to every attendee. He was a fantastic example of how hybrid events can have compelling in-person and virtual speakers present to attendees.
Aside from Benjamin, it was also great to listen to speakers I was already friends with, like John Sileo and Sara Ross! Plus, I got to meet and spend time with speakers I wasn’t as familiar with, like Eileen McDargh and Vera Jones. It was clear the audience also loved the speakers, as I could hear both in-person and virtual attendees gushing about their talks.
4. Hybrid Event Emcee to Bridge the Digital Divide
We talk a lot about the components of a successful hybrid event over here on the Jeff Civillico blog. After spearheading more than 200 virtual events over the past year, I can say with full confidence that a professional emcee is more than necessary when entertaining not one, but two audiences! A hybrid event emcee helps bridge the gap between the people at the event and those at home.
I was asked to come up with a fun activity for the “first-timers event” held the evening before the Top of the Table Annual Meeting officially kicked off. As the name implies, this event was geared as an ice-breaker team-building event. As the professional emcee, I opted to set up an interactive challenge through the GooseChase app, which had attendees talking and laughing together in no time! I recommend “GooseChase” as an easy-to-use platform for scavenger hunts and networking games.
5. Video and Tech Support to Ensure Smooth Sailing
Of course, another essential element of a hybrid event is solid video and tech support. As I’ve mentioned before, the logistics behind the scenes are incredibly important for an event that is truly hybrid, and not just a delayed video stream of an in-person event. Fortunately, The Launch Group was running the show and they were FABULOUS, as always. I had the pleasure of working with The Launch Group when hosting last year’s MDRT “Top of the Table” event which was fully virtual.
I mentioned it before but it’s worth mentioning again… this event was translated into seven additional languages simultaneously! I have to give a massive shout-out to the team of interpreters who knocked it out of the park and the tech team who managed the multiple live streams for those at home. The team would also bring our virtual audience on the screen throughout the event, something that should be done several times per day. Bravo, MDRT team!
6. Engagement Specifically for a Hybrid Audience
Next up in the checklist of items the Top of the Table Annual Meeting executed perfectly is the engagement pieces. I was tasked by the event planner to come up with something fun that could engage the in-person and virtual audience at the same time for their “Mental Coffee” game, an exciting way to test everyone’s MDRT knowledge and make sure everyone was wide awake!
Here’s what we did:
- First, virtual attendees were emailed a PDF with various emoji symbols for them to print at home and show on screen, like thumbs up and thumbs down emojis.
- Then, I brought in-person audience members up on stage to test their MDRT knowledge, like the original cost of MDRT dues in 1928.
Since everyone on Amelia Island could see the virtual event attendees but not hear them, flashing the printed emojis made it a breeze for the digital audience to weigh in from home. I would ask my in-person volunteers—one of whom it was her birthday!—a question, and then ask my digital audience to hold up their emojis to indicate if the volunteer’s answer was right or wrong. It was a fun way that both audiences could be part of the action.
To ramp up the engagement even more, the MDRT team did a phenomenal job with their 2021 Top of the Table Annual Meeting conference app to further bridge the hybrid audiences. Both virtual and in-person attendees were encouraged to connect via daily matches on the app, where they could text or video chat for 15 minutes with another attendee anywhere in the world. There was even a fun feature you could link to from the app called Piccles where attendees could doodle their responses to different questions each day, creating colorful mosaics from all the responses.
The best part? MDRT is leaving the conference app live for 30 days post-event! This way, attendees can rewatch sessions to glean more information as well reconnect with fellow attendees located across the globe. In all of my experience with hybrid events, this was by far one of the best conference apps I’ve seen.
The Hybrid Event a Professional Emcee Dreams About
Words truly cannot express how wonderful of a time I had as the hybrid event emcee for the MDRT Top of the Table Annual Meeting 2021. I was able to visit a new place (which is rare for me these dasy!) and meet wonderful new people, as well as catch up with old friends. I even got to hit the town one night with my pal John Sileo, which was the perfect way to cap off a great event!
As a professional emcee, you never know what the next day will hold. This event was the ideal way to network with some incredible professionals and spend time with friends. Not to mention, I had the most incredible contact, Nikki Novak, who was so organized and communicative that she made my job easy. All around, this was a hybrid event that deserved a standing ovation.
Looking for a Hybrid Event Emcee for Your Next Meeting?
Are you looking for a hybrid event emcee to host your next meeting? You’ve come to the right place! As a professional emcee, corporate entertainer, and keynote speaker, I’m well-versed in planning and executing high-performing hybrid events. I would love to help elevate your event with entertainment that captures your audience—no matter if they’re in-person or spread across the globe.
Send me a booking inquiry today to learn more about my upcoming event schedule and how we can work together for a knockout hybrid event.