Quite often, some of the best experiences in life are the hardest to put into words. Why do you think that is?
Well, the only thing words can do, is DESCRIBE an experience. They can never BE the experience, or replace the experience. Linguists will agree that the words we use are nothing but SYMBOLS. They can only represent or suggest something. That’s why we say you can’t get wet from the word water.
Besides, words are always open to interpretation. The word “vacation” for instance, will bring up different associations for different people. You may think of that trip you took to Vegas last year, while I am thinking of my most recent visit to the Netherlands.
Same word, different experience, different meaning.
In spite of these limitations I will attempt to give you my impressions of the VO Atlanta (VOA) conference that began a week ago.
For me, going to VO Atlanta was one of the best experiences of the past two years. Because of COVID, I had been in self-imposed isolation, and I was so ready to see all my friends and colleagues again!
I must say: they didn’t disappoint. Stepping into the conference space and seeing all those familiar faces felt like a warm wave of wonderfulness! Was it overwhelming? YES! But not in a draining sort of way. Being with so many like-minded, kind and caring people gave me a boost of energy, instead of taking it away.
Of course I had to pace myself by disappearing to my room from time to time. I skipped the parties and avoided prolonged conversations in crowded spaces. So, if I kept things short between you and me, I hope you’ll forgive me.
This year saw the welcome introduction of what I call “cosy corners.” That’s an arrangement of comfy couches away from the masses where people could catch up with one another. There were also handy media stations to charge appliances and produce social media content. A very smart move!
Everybody appreciated the new coffee and water stations all over the conference space. I’m sure that whoever runs the small hotel coffee shop, must be grateful not to be mobbed by hundreds of very vocal people who all want their tall lattes at the same time.
Most sessions, panels, and presentations ran like clockwork. This is a testament to the team of enthusiastic volunteers who were as friendly and helpful as can be. Keep in mind that at any moment during the day, many things were going on at the same time. The program was jam-packed and there were some last-minute room changes that were handled in stride.
I think it was hard for the organizers to predict how many people would go to which presentation. Some rooms were filled to the brim, and fresh air was in short supply, whereas other topics were not as well attended and took place in a near-empty hall. Perhaps it would be good to find out what people are interested in ahead of time, and allot space accordingly.
Based on my observations, the experiential sessions such as the ones lead by VO VIP’s like Bill Farmer, Dave Fennoy, Lori Alan, and Scott Brick, were as popular as ever. And as usual, those presentations that focused on business topics were not as busy. We all like to do the fun stuff, don’t we?
I want to pay a big compliment to Uncle Roy Yokelson, Patrick Kirchner, and all the other folks who were responsible for the audio engineering part of the conference. Even the best speakers are useless if no one can hear what’s being said. Technology-wise, this was probably the best VO conference to date.
FEEL THE GOOD VIBES
What’s hardest to capture is the pervading positive energy in the air at VOA. Maybe they were secretly pumping positive ions through the ducts, but I think it may have been generated by the people that feel drawn to these events. They’re almost too nice! Voice Over professionals are some of the most unpretentious and least intimidating people you’ll ever meet.
No big egos. Just amigos!
I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to be part of this heartwarming community. You may have heard that I had to deal with a challenging personal situation during the conference, but being with colleagues who are like family to me, helped me get through my grief, and experience joy in the midst of sorrow.
A special thank you to those of you who stopped me to say how much you appreciate all my blogs and other social media posts. I often wonder if anything I write has any impact, but I can stop wondering. It felt really good to get so much heartwarming feedback from you!
BACK TO THE REAL WORLD
When I left the hotel and got back into the cold, real world, I wondered what had happened to our planet. People were no longer smiling. They were arguing over nothing, and tried to skip the line to get through airport security first. When I looked them in the eye, they ignored me. When I tried to engage in conversation, they fixated on their phones. How sad!
We have so many magnificent means to communicate, yet, we do so little to make a real connection.
That’s why we need events like Voice Over Atlanta.
Are you coming, next year?
Click here for an early bird special!
John Florian says
See? You DID put it into words, Paul. Beautifully. The VO Atlanta atmosphere was nurturing – and reunited so many friends! Great to see and talk with you.
Harold Sogard says
Great to hear how much you enjoyed it!