I attended my first voice over conference this past weekend. With all the other things going on this time of year, I was only able to make one day of MAVO, the Mid-Atlantic Voice Over conference 2016 http://www.midatlanticvo.com/. Luckily it takes place almost in my backyard. So, when I heard they offered a one day pass, I jumped in my car and headed south from Baltimore, Maryland, around the dreaded Washington D.C. Beltway on my way to Herndon Virginia. Typical of the totally random patterns that is D.C. traffic, I got to the conference location in 1 hour. Problem was, I was an hour EARLY! I swear to you, that same drive has taken me 1 hour, 2 hours, and even over 3 hours! You just never know. This time I was lucky and hit no vehicular traffic, but it also meant that when I entered the hotel there was no people traffic either. There was one brave soul, Sean Daeley, representing the Global Voice Acting Academy GVAA, http://globalvoiceacademy.com/. That guy is dedicated!
Eventually, others started to wander in, mostly heading straight for the coffee. As I met the first few brave souls I was instantly greeted with “Oh, you’re Paul, we were wondering when you were coming” no less than 6 times. The conference organizers had placed all the badges out on the first day for people to pick up as they arrived. Then they just left them there. There were only 4 people who didn’t show up on the first day, me being one of them. So, people kept seeing my name tag all day and wondering who I was and why I wasn’t there. Accidental conference marketing strategy number 1. It was like I was a celebrity for no other reason, than I didn’t show up on time!
When the conference organizers arrived for the new morning, I picked up my badge and goodie bag, (Yay!) and was on my way. I networked a little, then got down to business. Along with the aforementioned Sean Daeley, I had planned to do a Live recording of our podcast The VO Meter http://www.vometer.com during the conference; marketing strategy number 2. I had no idea how that would work, and I’m not sure Sean had thought more about it either, but we were determined to give it the old college try. So, prior to the first session, we set up the mic and the computer and I grabbed the first person who would talk to me. Conference marketing tip number 3…It’s much easier to talk to people from behind an exhibitor table. If you are able to be a sponsor, you can literally talk to people as they walk by. It’s like meeting everybody but only having to do half the work! So after speaking with attendee and Voice actor John Grossman, I went to my first session. A fabulous speech by Sunday Muse http://www.sundaymuse.com/ on emotion and how to allow that to enter your work. That was followed by a great general session on tech by Dan Friedman of http://sound4vo.com/ fame, an animation panel featuring Herb Moore, Kara Edwards, Sara Sherman, and Jason Linere White, a great character development session with Jason, and finally a closing session with David Goldberg of Edge Studio, www.edgestudio.com
In between, things got kind of crazy. Sean and I just starting grabbing the presenters and putting them on the show. In some cases, as we were in different sessions, the two of us didn’t even know we had interviewed some of the guests until we met again at the end of the day. Sean interviewed, Sunday, Nicola Richards, Val Kelly, I spoke with John Florian of Voice Over Xtra, http://voiceoverxtra.com/, Jason Linere White, and Sean Pratt, and we even added in a few general attendees. Everybody was so gracious and caring it was truly unbelievable. I even won a door prize at the end, a free 1 hour coaching session with Jason!
I have to say, the entire experience was fabulous. I got more out of it than I ever could have imagined, and I was only there for 1o hours! I met lots of VO friends who I knew from Facebook or Twitter but had never met online, and met several completely new friends. Next time I am going for the whole conference for sure.
Thanks to Val Kelly, http://www.valkellyvoiceover.com/ for organizing such a great event, all the presenters, the sponsors and especially Vocalboothtogo, http://www.vocalboothtogo.com who were kind enough to let Sean and I use their Carry On Vocal booth the whole show for our interviews.
If you are even wondering if going to a VO conference is worth your time, I assure, it will be.