I want to thank everyone who has read and commented on my “10 reasons not to attend a voice over conference” article. If you haven’t read it, click on the blue hyperlink in the previous sentence. My story came out on the day the One Voice Conference (OVC) 2023 opened its doors in Dallas.
Hugh Edwards, the CEO of the OVC, even added some comments as he was preparing for the opening of the One voice Conference! One of the things he reiterated was that people don’t have to attend the event in person, but they can sign up for the virtual program at a reduced rate.
What’s even better, when you do, you also get access to the whole One Voice Library of all presentations at all previous conferences, making this an incredible deal! Of course you’ll miss out on the special energy you feel when you attend in person (and the silent disco), but if you’re an introvert like me, you probably don’t mind.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
A lot of comments revolve around the perceived ROI of a conference, or lack thereof. “It was fun,” said one of the commentators, “but in the end I didn’t book any jobs as a result of it.”
Well, what did you expect?
It’s an educational and networking experience, not a job fair.
But where else do you get the chance to meet casting directors, agents, and fellow voice actors in person? At the last VO Atlanta I took the elevator with a well known agent and she asked me if I had representation. I told her I had over ten agents that are all sending me the same auditions, and we left it at that. But had I been in a different situation, I would have jumped at the opportunity!
Why would it be important to make a positive impression on fellow voice actors? Aren’t they my competition? Not at all, but a majority of the jobs I book are the result of referrals from fellow voice actors who had some kind of interaction with me, or who attended one of my presentations. Now, I can never say whether or not a new job is directly the result of going to a conference, but those who choose not to go, have closed that door ahead of time.
Then there’s a category of people who denounce the conference organizers for being greedy, and accuse the presenters of trying to sell their services. To address the last thing first, the presenter agreement for VO Atlanta (VOA) explicitly forbids speakers to sell anything to anyone at the conference. I’m pretty sure it’s the same at the One Voice Conference.
Here’s the exact wording of the 2023 VOA Speakers Agreement:
“The Speaker understands and agrees not to allow obvious solicitation of The Speaker’s services or products.”
Now, those who say that conferences are only lining the pockets of the people organizing these gatherings, have no idea how slim the margins are and how expensive it is to put an event like this together, and make it available in a virtual way. Paying for the hotel alone is an astronomical bill! Every free cup of coffee you drink has to be paid for, and prices are seriously inflated! For these venues it’s all about the markups.
If you believe in decent pay for decent work, you have to agree that presenters deserve to be fairly compensated for their contributions. And when I say contributions… they are paid not only for their presentations, but for being available during the entire conference. And from my own experience I can tell you: it is fun but hard work. You go to bed exhausted.
Now imagine being responsible for the whole thing, including all the financial risks involved. Don’t you think the organizers deserve to walk away with some profit? Or is making money all of a sudden something dirty? Please note: SOVAS, the organization behind the Voice Arts Awards, is listed as a non-profit. Click here for my article about the difference between the SOVAS and the One Voice Awards.
SELF OR OTHERS
And lastly, I really don’t like this “What’s in it for me” attitude. When I go to a conference I never ask: “How much do I GET,” but I ask: “How much can I GIVE?” I do well as a voice actor, content creator, and coach, and part of my success can be attributed to colleagues who have helped me when I didn’t know anything about anything.
Going to conferences taught me so much in a short amount of time. I’ll never be able to repay those who have supported me, other than by paying it forward.
Speaking of support, during my last conference, my father-in-law passed away, and I had a choice to make: Do I leave or do I stay? J. Michael Collins (whom some think is one of those money grabbers) offered to fly me back home early, so I could be with my family. Private car service to and from the airport included.
In the end I decided to stay and fulfill my commitment because I didn’t want to disappoint the people that had been looking forward to my presentations and panels. I’m not sharing this because I want you to feel sorry for me, or admire me for my selfless acts. I’m sharing this to tell you how much my community and leaders like JMC mean to me. They are like family, and if you speak badly of my family, you are insulting me personally.
VALUE FOR MONEY
So, are these conferences worth it?
You know what I’m going to say, right? It all depends on your definition of worth. As I said in my last story, I will often see the same people coming back again and again. They are either seriously misguided and delusional, or they are getting something out of the entire experience that equals or exceeds the price of entry.
But if you never go, you’ll never know.
These meetings are not for everybody, but no one ever claimed they were. I wrote my last article not to denigrate theses events, but to give those a voice for whom attending a conference may be a challenge they cannot overcome.
They too, deserve to be heard and acknowledged, because they are also part of our community.