What I learned at my first VO conference

What I learned from my first VO conference...

On March 7th 2017 I got on a flight to Atlanta, Georgia. My old office, the plane, was taking me to my new office. I’m was on my way to VO Atlanta, the largest conference in the Voice industry organised by Gerald Griffith. I was heading to 4 days of learning, building relationships and working hard to be all I can be! I was excited and apprehensive, keen and shy, confident and nervous. But overall, so full of passion! Have you ever found your calling? Have you ever started fulfilling your old day dreams? It fills you with an energy so overwhelming, it motivates all your movements and sparks newer and more daring day dreams!

I was intimidated, I’ll be honest. So many talented people in one room who all knew each other! I’ve never been a wallflower but I didn’t know where to start with this bunch of vivacious voice talent laughing in the lobby. But once you say hello they welcome you in as one of the gang. The gang of people who are usually found alone in a booth talking to themselves.

  • As a small business, meeting people face to face is vital. How can you ever expect a person to really want to work with you unless you’ve made a human connection, looked them in the eye, made them laugh! That kind of meeting makes you stick out above the other hundred emails they get. But when you’re seeking out that someone to connect with, don’t just make a bee-line for the top casting directors or agents. Talk to your peers. The other VO’s. Whether they are on their first day of their career or 10,000th, they can make an impact in your learning, your creative process, your awareness. As Gerald Griffith said in his closing speech, even Bill Farmer had a day one!

    • Gerald recommended to ensure that you attend at least one session that is about your business. Marketing, branding, ethics, and this is incredibly important. To paraphrase a quote by Rachael Naylor of The Voiceover Network “you need to dedicate time to spend ON your business, not just in it.” And if you are to truly succeed you need to be business savvy as well as have the ability to say ‘business savvy’ in 5 different character voices.

    • Take chance, take opportunity. If there’s a talent screening or competition or any other amazing event that will help push you and promote you then take it! If Scott Parkin runs past you in the hall with a tray of glasses, run alongside him! It is fun and you never know who you might end up having a hilarious conversation or dance off with…..

    • On that note. Try not to get too drunk. Nobody respects the drunk chick/dude.

    Have an emergency pack of these items in your totebag at all times:
    • Antibacterial gel – So many people got sick after the conference and no one knows who patient zero is…
    • Mints – all that coffee you drank to stay alert makes your sweet breath not so inviting.
    • Lip balm – all that talking is tough on the old smackers.
    • Protein bar – don’t let hunger distract you from all the awesome info.
    • Notepad & pen – there is a world of advice for you to learn from and you’ll kick yourself if you forget a single thing.
    • Kick ass branded business cards – you will need them, don’t be the one people forget because they have everyone else’s business cards to get through. There’s people that really stick in my memory because their cards are amazing. Kath with the caramel candy attached to her card sticks out in particular!
    • Water – Don’t let a day out of the booth get in the way of your hydration routine as if you have to audition in the middle of the day you will have the dreaded mouth clicks!

    • When it’s all over, go through those business cards and follow up with them. Be personal, be human, you’ve just spent real time with these individuals so don’t mess it up by going back to being a stranger.

    Above all just absorb everything you can. When will you ever get the chance to learn so much about your own business, from so many experts and peers, in such a short amount of time? Make a VO conference anywhere in the world a key part of your investment. I know I will try attend as many as I can, and I like to think that now I’m part of a worldwide community I will be welcomed in as part of that bunch of vivacious voice talent laughing in the lobby.