I just attended my second VO Conference (VO Atlanta 23) and I’m still walking on air! Meeting and working with some of the biggest names in the business is worth every penny, even at tax time. I can only describe it as a full college semester for a VO degree being stuffed into four days!
As I mentioned, this was my second conference. The first one was just as exciting but intimidating. I felt I was out of my league yet I was determined to take advantage of every presentation and opportunity to read in front of my peers. Terrifying but so rewarding! After this second conference I feel I belong with this tribe of professional colleagues. I’ve met and mingled with “Olympic” VOs who have won Emmys, who voice national commercials and star in the top video games. These people are now my friends and my skills and confidence have increased and been validated substantially.
VOs at all levels are welcomed and encouraged with warm inclusiveness. Coaches I’ve worked with only on Zoom greeted me like family members at a reunion with giant hugs and support. Can you imagine having breakfast with “Daffy Duck,” or one of the Transformers cast? So many laughs, bonding and new contacts!
All this being said, there are factors to consider before you pull out your credit card and plan to attend a conference. Besides being quite expensive (the conference itself, hotel and travel, food and other necessities), if you are just beginning your career, it might be wise to wait. I had about two years of coaching under my belt before I attended my first one. I was definitely out of my league but it left me so inspired and motivated! When I got back home, it wasn’t long before my career started to move! My confidence took a giant leap.
This second conference came at a time I had income tax and property taxes due so it was a tough decision to stress my credit card. But I went for it because I knew it was a career investment that would pay off eventually. And just two days after getting home, I’m seeing the results of my attendance.
So, back to my advice to be cautious with the decision of attending conferences too soon if you are just beginning a voice over career. It is possible to be successful but not likely if a significant financial investment in training, designing your recording booth, get a website up and running, and of course, recording your demo is not made at the start. Of course, there are exceptions but the normal startup costs can add up fast. Think of going back to college full time for a couple of semesters.
I chose to get started by investing most of my funds into training. Putting myself in the hands of the very best (and expensive), has helped me make fewer mistakes. My home studio is still made of moving blankets and PVC pipes. I’m not a techie so the latest toys are not my priority. I have a good mic, interface and a desk top MAC that does the job just fine. Luckily, my acoustics are great for a clean crisp sound.
Marketing costs are mostly paid in sweat equity, but anyway, deciding to attend a conference before your start up ducks are in a row may keep you from getting the most out of them. For example, there was a young 20 something man attending in Atlanta who was not ready to be there. He was intent on showing all the ways he could manipulate his sound. The coaches were so gracious trying to show him that it wasn’t about manipulation and effects, it was about becoming the character through acting. He had never had an acting class! He constantly interrupted the coaches and never understood their advice. He alienated the VOs trying to help him and I hope by seeing other artists work, he might finally have gotten a clue. By not listening, he lost some wonderful learning opportunities.
The plentiful benefits of attending the VO conferences are many, so making contacts with successful people in the industry, bonding with new friends and taking in depth classes to hone your skills is now my happy place! I hope I see you at the next one!