Refresh: VO Atlanta 2019 Recap
I wanted to give you some highlights from my experience at VO Atlanta 2019. This year's theme was Refresh. If you’d like to hear me tell it instead of reading, click the play button below.
Several people talked about the importance of learning how to ACT in voiceover. Even though the audience can’t see you, it’s no less important. Acting classes were recommended by several speakers. So glad I am on that train-- just finished a 6-month course in Meisner Technique, and signing up for a scene study class that starts this month.
I attended a session on Twitter marketing by Heather Costa, since that's the social platform I use the least for marketing. She said the best way to get someone to notice you is to follow them, then post and tweet about them!
Tom Dheere did an excellent session about sales funnels for VOs:
1. Brand awareness (find you)
2. Consideration (vet you)
3. Decision (choose you)
4. Advocacy (love you)
"Be a good human and collect good humans" is one of my takeaways from this session. It should be so simple and common, but sadly, nope. He also suggesting making a YouTube playlist of your VO work and add the link to your email signature-- such a great idea. Done!
In general, there seemed to be a lot of conflicting information about demos. Some agents and casting folks would give slightly different advice based on their location and preference. When I was a new talent, things like this would drive me crazy. If I was new and heard this, I'd probably think, 'Am I supposed to have 4 versions of the same demo to satisfy everyone?'
Some advice I heard about demos was:
Demo should reflect the work you want to book.
1 minute long (up to 1:20 acceptable)
Put your best stuff first (because they will not listen past about 7 seconds).
Put your conversational read first.
Any fast food reads should be near the beginning, not at the end.
Include national brands.
Show your range via emotions, POV and industries, but stay within your brand (who you are).
Ask demo producer for a consultation, samples of their work for other VOs similar to your tone, and an option for minor edits if needed later.
There was a voiceover agent, Marc Guss, who ran a session about seeking agency representation. There were quite a few things he said that surprised me, such as, that VOs should do everything. I think you should do what you enjoy AND are good at-- but not everything.
Also, he said that VOs should not use our pictures on our websites or business cards. I was one of many that found that advice strange. I am ignoring it.
He did say something interesting-- that he has booked people from Twitter!
Jeff Umberger runs his agency in Atlanta, and advised us to have multiple agents (it's ok) but just be clear about it-- put them on your website.
CASTING SITES (12:13)
I did not attend the Casting Sites panel session this year, but everyone's been talking about the dismal revamping of Voice123. I heard that the CEO, Rolf, would not admit how bad it really was, and not sure how committed he is to fixing the issues.
I'm one of the 1,000 VOs included in the initial launch of Voiceovers.com on April 1st. Everyone on the site had to apply and submit an audition-- it's not a free-for-all there. As I've heard on many podcasts recently, that CEO, Matt Dubois, has been very clear, decisive and transparent about the direction he's taking, both to help the buyers and the talent work efficiently with each other. I'm excited about the possibilities.
Narration is undoubtedly the kind of VO I am best at. So I attended 2 X-sessions in narration, where you pay extra for 3-hour intensives on specific subjects, which are limited to 12 attendees, so you can go deep.
True crime is my number one reason for getting into VO and my dream gig-- are you listening Oxygen and ID? So the first X-session I attended was about true crime narration, with the former narrator of Deadly Women, Lynnanne Zager, on the Investigation Discovery channel. It sold out the same evening it was posted! I'm not sharing a lot of specific notes about this since it was an additional investment, but I will say I enjoyed it thoroughly. Our final exercise was to read a script for the first 2 minutes of a Deadly Women episode to picture-- meaning we read along with the video. First, the class read all together with Lynnanne's VO, then she played a video version that was mix-minus, meaning it had all the audio except her VO. Let's just say, we killed it!!
My second X-session (and last session of the conference) was at night, and it was about productivity, e-learning and corporate narration. I don't have all the notes back from the speaker yet, Adam Lofbomm, but he was very thorough, shared his tips and tricks for editing, his CRM (Cloze), finding work, and his rate sheet.
Included in the conference fee is the digital recording of all regular sessions, so over the next few weeks, I will be checking out sessions I missed.
I have been friends with the Executive Director Gerald Griffith since 2010 when we met at Toastmasters, and we both moved to Atlanta from Virginia. I call him my big brother, and am proud of what he and the whole VOA team pulled off again this year. There are many voiceover conferences, but this one is the biggest and best-attended,. If you're interested in voiceover, plan to attend in March 2020! Next year's theme is Envision.