WEC speaker Michael Cerbelli on Keys for Event Success

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WEC speaker Michael Cerbelli on Keys for Event Success

By Jason Hensel | Apr 17, 2019

In “Michael Cerbelli’s: The Hot List™: 2019,” 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on June 17 at the 2019 MPI World Education Congress (WEC) in Toronto, Cerbelli takes the hottest, newest and most inspiring event and entertainment insights and showcases them for the WEC audience in a breathtaking, 90-minute, head-spinning romp.

Michael Cerbelli is bringing his 18th Annual: The Hot List™ back to WEC. Like last year, the event will showcase industry trends that planners can use at their own events. It will also be a very tech-heavy show, because there are a lot of companies bringing innovative technology into events.

Cerbelli plans to present six or seven tech ideas, as well as entertainment that is scalable, meaning that if a planner books an act with, say, a 27-piece orchestra, does she have to book the whole band?

“Not necessarily,” Cerbelli says. “You could use just the three-front line, the one-front line, the two-front lines with a track. Maybe you could add a light musician. Maybe you could have three pieces, seven pieces, 12 pieces and go up from there.”

In the end, the presentation will be perfect for the corporate planner, Cerbelli says, because they want something that is going to wow, which is what The Hot List™ does best.

Transformative Experiences

One promising presentation that Cerbelli is excited about involves facial recognition technology from Datakalab. Users point cameras at an audience, sending back ROI to planners so that they can understand how attendees are reacting to certain subjects and speakers.

“So, one camera pointed at about 75 people, and basically by eyebrow movements, blinking of the eyes, the teeth, the nose, the way you twitch, it is reading how you are reacting to that person on stage or that idea that they’re speaking about. ‘Hey, guess what, the company is going to go in this direction. Is everybody truly excited about that?’” Cerbelli says. “It gives that information back.”

He likes to mention a Taylor Swift concert when talking about this technology.

“There was a stalker that [Swift’s representatives] knew within [a] city,” Cerbelli says. “There was no way that they could find him without this technology, and when he walked into the stadium, by watching the faces that came in, they pinned him out of a crowd.”

That is just one innovation that could transform the meeting and event industry. This year’s WEC, too, is about creating unforgettable, transformative experiences. For Cerbelli, “transformation” has come up four times in the past year alone.  

“People are coming to us asking, ‘How can we get this message across, how can we transform this event?’” he says.

One reason that transformation has moved to the forefront is because so many companies are merging, Cerbelli says, which raises the question of how to get all these teams to work together well.

“I think for meeting planners the challenge for them right now is how do we bring all these new faces, these new bodies, these new C-levels all together on one page?” Cerbelli says. “If you bring everybody together and just talk it out, you would be amazed at how well everybody starts working together.”

As an example, Cerbelli mentions an April event he is working with that is bringing 12 different companies together. There was some questioning as to whether the whole team should be brought together to help plan the event.

“I said by the time we get done with this meeting, everybody will be on the same page of bringing out their ideas,” Cerbelli says. “And yes, there are some squeaky wheels, but I believe that when a meeting planner sits down and brings all parties together, they feel like they have a vested interest in the event.”

A Chance to Talk

Cerbelli says an event’s success depends on the client. However, there is one important part of any event that will ensure its success—networking opportunities.

“I feel when we are doing these events, if you are not giving people enough time to celebrate each other, they are not enjoying themselves,” he says. “You can put anybody in the room to stare at the stage and just see a talking head. When I’m doing an event, I want to see how people are reacting. The only time I don’t see them getting excited about everything is when they are stuck in one room facing one way.”

Yes, you can motivate attendees in an hour or an hour-and-a-half, Cerbelli says, but does it have to be three or six hours?

“Most of these meetings that I’m seeing right now are shorter, more concise, easier, more comfortable surroundings where attendees can be with people,” he says. “Giving them that networking event shows me that they want to come back next year. That is my ROI. That shows me a successful event.”

In fact, the event he mentioned earlier, the one with the 12 companies coming together, is 60 percent networking.

“I believe that the more people network and spend time together, our industry will grow because of us working together as comrades,” Cerbelli says.

Fast and Quick

Cerbelli has entertained audiences for more than 40 years, and the biggest thing he has learned is that everyone likes it fast and quick.

“When I started The Hot List™, I wanted to give as much information as possible in 90 minutes,” he says. “What I have learned is to keep it concise, clear and hit the point with the audience.”

If there are 36 ideas, Cerbelli says, the audience is going to get the information in as little as 90 seconds to five minutes, and then he is going to move on to something else.

Quick, concise and have people entertained in a short period of time. Sounds like the perfect list of ingredients for a great event.

At WEC19

Michael Cerbelli will be a Keynote Speaker at WEC this year and will be speaking on the following days:

  • Monday, June 17th: Michael Cerbelli's: The Hot List™: 2019 General Session Luncheon
  • Monday, June 17th: AFTER Michael Cerbelli's: The Hot List™

Click here to see more sessions.

Don’t Miss Michael Cerbelli at WEC!

World Education Congress keynote speakers include Cerbelli, Vinh Giang (“The Psychology of Illusion - Designing Shared Experiences,” courtesy of CMI Speaker Management), Jade Simmons (concert pianist and activational speaker, courtesy of Goodman Speakers Bureau), Dear World (offering transformational stories) and Storytellers (featuring meeting and event community members). Comedian Dena Blizzard returns as emcee.

Visit mpi.org/wec19 to learn more and register.



Jason Hensel
Jason Hensel

Jason Hensel is a freelance writer and former editor for The Meeting Professional. He likes improv comedy, bacon and books.