Voice Over Conferences
The COVID-19 Pandemic hit the world like a storm at the beginning of 2020. It unfortunately put a pause on a lot of in-person events, including voice over and business conferences. But instead of putting a hold on these conferences indefinitely, some conference organizers saw the opportunity to use the technology so readily available to us, and organized virtual conferences.
Although my blog refers to the field of voice over, these theories and thoughts apply to conferences in all different types of professions.
In August of 2020, I attended not only my first voice over conference, but my first virtual conference, which happened to be the inaugural One Voice Conference USA 2020, which was completely virtual. My experience was such a positive one that, to be honest, I have become somewhat of a VO virtual conference junkie! And I know that I’m not the only one, as I’ve seen many of the same people at the other ones that I have attended, such as VO Atlanta and VO North.
What to Expect
The way that many of these virtual conferences work is that you get to watch the presenters live. You also get to participate and interact in real-time. But most of these events also give attendees access to the virtual content afterwards, for at least a certain amount of time, if not indefinitely.
In many cases, the learning content and knowledge that you will gain and be presented with are essentially the same in both in-person and online. When attending a virtual conference, you will enter a virtual room based on your selection. You always have the option of changing rooms if you don’t find that particular session to suit what you’re looking for. It’s certainly easier to slip out of a virtual room than a real one unnoticed… And if there are too many interesting sessions happening at the same time and you have problems choosing which one to attend (trust me, I’ve been there), you can always watch the missed session on the replay.
It is true that meeting people virtually is not quite the same as in person, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Often, there are networking sessions during these conferences. They usually create random break-out rooms with smaller groups of people, so that you do get to meet people in a more intimate setting. I myself have met so many wonderful voice actors – from my fellow Canadians, to our neighbors down south in the USA, to those overseas. Some of the people whom I’ve met virtually at VO conferences include people who eventually became a mentor and accountability buddies of mine. The virtual socials/parties are also a lot of fun! One has not really lived until they have experienced singing virtual karaoke! It’s a thing. I’m not kidding!
Virtual or In-Person – A Preference?
I don’t think that it’s always necessarily a question of preferences. For those of us who have attended in-person conferences, no matter what the industry, we can all agree that virtual is not the same as face-to-face time with colleagues, clients or industry partners.
There’s no denying the benefits of virtual conferences. Not only is the cost savings enormous, but the time savings is also a huge factor. One will save tons of money on what would normally be spent on travel, hotels and meals. Another factor is currency conversions that may affect those in different countries. The cost savings of attending a virtual conference vs an in-person one has allowed me to attend more of them than if I attended one in person. And in the end, that means access to more educational content.
It’s So Easy!
Virtual conferences also provide opportunities to people around the world who just would not be able to travel for a weekend conference that may be half way across the world. It’s just so easy and convenient to attend a virtual conference. Access is literally right at the tip of your fingers. Even without COVID restrictions, people from certain countries may have to deal with issues like travel visas. With the exception of the 2021 virtual VO Atlanta conference, most VO conferences are only about 3 days long. So for many, even if they prefer attending in person, it may not actually be feasible for them.
Furthermore, not all VOs are extroverts, and some may be intimidated or uncomfortable by the thought of in-person conferences. Perhaps they may not know any of the attendees, and they may actually welcome the security and comfort of learning from their home.
I am pretty much a social butterfly, love meeting new people, learning about what makes them tick and just chatting people up. So, yes, I would rather attend in person rather than virtually. That being said, I think that virtual is an excellent alternative that I’m very happy to partake in.
A New Way of Conferencing
Perhaps hybrid conferences (both in-person and virtual) are the way of the future. We see that One Voice Conference UK 2021 successfully hosted their first hybrid conference this past weekend, and the upcoming One Voice Conference USA 2021 is also organized to be hybrid. This is an excellent option for people with different budgets, schedules and from different locations. Will this be the gold standard for business conferences even after the Pandemic is over? Time will tell…
Go for it!
Of course, I would love to attend an in-person VO conference, and I definitely will, hopefully sooner rather than later. But with the fourth wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic well underway, along with continued travel restrictions in many countries, we can all agree that you can’t go wrong by attending a virtual conference. So, if you’re hesitant about any of the upcoming 2021 virtual conferences, just go for it! You won’t regret attending!
Upcoming Voice Over Conferences
Here are some of the upcoming virtual and hybrid VO conferences for the rest of 2021.
One Voice Conference USA 2021 – August 26-29, 2021 (Hybrid)
MAVO 2021 – November 12-14, 2021 (Virtual)
That’s Voiceover! Career Expo 2021 – November 19-21, 2021 (Virtual)