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| Written by Nicole Raudabaugh, CMP, CIS

How to Design an Amazing Hybrid Awards Ceremony

Moxie Awards Hybrid Ceremony

We hosted a hybrid awards ceremony to celebrate our client and partner organizations who exhibited excellence and used their “moxie” to make an impact within the meetings and events industry during an unprecedented and challenging year. It takes talented event strategists, planners, and technicians to design an amazing hybrid ceremony that celebrates winners, creates excitement, and engages the audience.

Producing an annual awards ceremony is pressure-filled under the best of circumstances, and this was an even more formidable challenge for our event planning and production team under pandemic protocols. It was a privilege to lead this effort and work with an amazing group of individuals to design, plan and produce our first-ever hybrid awards ceremony.

Interested in learning how to seamlessly blend in-person and virtual audiences so they fall into the show experience? Read on as I share a few of our best moments and surprise elements.

M&IW Moxie Awards

The event theme was inspired by “The Show Must Go On!” a song by the British rock band Queen, featured as the final track on their 1991 album Innuendo. Despite challenges, changes, and complexities – we were committed to safely hosting a live in-person event. Soon after, it was fittingly named, the M&IW Moxie Awards. Moxie is defined as a force of character, determination, or guts. At a time where relationships are more important than ever, we were thrilled to present this suite of awards to our valuable clients. See the full list of awards and winners below.

Setting the Stage

Our team rolled out a red carpet at the Renaissance Schaumburg to create a sense of grandeur at the event which was also live-streamed for our virtual attendees. With the use of video and production, all attendees were invited into the theater as the curtain pulled back, recognized our sponsors, and revealed the event theme – a nod to the elegance of the Oscars featuring gold and black with a twist.

The Main Event

Our event hosts, Shauna McNaughton, VP of Global Enterprise Solutions, and Peter Duncan, Strategic Account Manager, kicked off the main event. We were breaking new ground by hosting a live traditional award show with a small in-person audience and immersing a virtual audience of several hundred attendees through live streaming, a digital platform, a virtual emcee, high-end production, and interactive engagement techniques which were moderated by our digital producers. With the various camera angles, virtual views, and audience pans – the run of show and cue-to-cue for the production team was more complex and every second counted. To help further engage the virtual audience, we brought on board our virtual emcee, Anna Meier, Manager of Program Management, to remotely host one of the awards segments!

Swag Bag & Activity Challenge

A couple of days prior to the event, the virtual attendees received a package to their home or office with a message NOT to OPEN until instructed. The in-person attendees were hand-delivered the package during the awards show opening. The box was filled with tasty treats to enjoy during the awards. Additionally, there were two golden tickets, one sent in one of the virtual attendee boxes and one of the in-person boxes. The winners of the golden tickets each winning a 2-night luxury stay from our hotel partners.

Within the digital event platform, there was an activity challenge. Teams consisted of both virtual and in-person attendees. Points were earned by completing various tasks. The team with the most points was announced at the awards ceremony and they were given access to pick a prize from our customized gifting platform.

Here are the Nominees!

As we announced the M&IW Moxie Awards, the production challenge was to effortlessly incorporate the award nominees who were not in-person at the event and bringing them to life on screen. To elevate the excitement factor, we had applause from our virtual audience attendees and would show them on screen. Ideally, it would be great to bring those folks on camera live, but we decided to pre-record those segments.

And, the Winners Are…

Post 2020, award ceremonies may never be the same as production designers, art directors, and set decorators have their turn in the spotlight with a new era of merging celebration and entertainment. Virtual event attendees were met with an immersive experience that brought the best aspects of live events right to their personal screens. And, in-person attendees were connected to virtual attendees tuning in from near and far.

One of the surprise elements we incorporated was a design artist. Unlike a traditional event, winners were unable to take the stage. But we wanted to create a special effect so as the winning organization was announced, the artist created a live caricature of the individual from the company accepting the award. It was a huge hit and stole the show.   

You’re Not too Late!

If you missed out on the 2020 M&IW Moxie Awards and are interested in viewing the show recording, please email The awards ceremony took place during our first-ever client hybrid event, the M&IW Events Reimagined Forum. Check out our M&IW Forum Photo Gallery.

Visit our M&IW Resource Center for more content supporting the return of in-person events and hybrid formats.

2020 M&IW Moxie Award Winners

We are so proud of what our client organizations achieved in partnership with us in 2020. Please join us in congratulating them on continuing to push forward and using their “moxie.”

Strategic Initiatives Award – Takeda Pharmaceuticals
The clients in this category took advantage of the industry disruption caused by the pandemic to drive strategic or continuous improvement initiatives to elevate their meetings and events program.
Pivot Award – Roche Diagnostics
These agile companies swiftly reworked their plans and partnered with M&IW on virtual events, shortly after the pandemic started.
Elevated Event Award – IT by Design
These award nominees pushed the limits with creative content and production elements in all their virtual events this past year.
Creative Recognition Award – Anthem
Despite the unusual circumstances of 2020, these companies found a way to ensure engaged teams and/or event participants through unique and creative gifting and experiences.
New Client Partnership Award – Biogen
Awarded to a new account that onboarded with M&IW in 2020 and continued to strive for success, despite limitations posed by the pandemic.
Client Partner of the Year – Abbott
The nominees in this category embraced an enhanced partnership along multiple service lines with M&IW throughout all of 2020.