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How To Get The Most From Voice Over
Conferences: Part 2 - Conference Tactics

By Natasha Marchewka
Voice Actor

Good for you: You've arrived at the voice over conference with a goal and a plan to get the most out of your experience.

Now what?

In Part 2 of our series, let's explore conference tactics.

1. Follow Your Own Path

Avoid choosing sessions simply because your friends are going. We are all in different places in our career and will benefit from different information.

Further, with so much happening at the same time, it's easy to become distracted.

So stay focused on your plan to achieve your objectives. Be "present" enough to take in all the information.

Despite the hundreds of attendees, flying solo can be very effective.

2. Choose The "Right" Sessions

My rule of thumb is to choose sessions that are unique to the conference, and which I can't pay for one-on-one after the conference.

Also, breakout sessions are great for personally meeting coaches who will be  a good fit for you later on.

Finally, if there are weaknesses in my craft or my business that I know require further study, I'll attend those sessions that fill in some holes.

3. Use One Journal, And Separate Page And Title For Each Session

In order to make sense of your notes when you get home, outlining your takeaways helps to remember all that you learned.

I personally find my notes a great reference when looking back. I include the session title, date, and presenter at the top of each page to find information easily.

4. Photograph Notes For Sharing

You'll often want to go to several sessions at the same time. It's very effective to agree with another participant that you'll share notes, given you are respecting the guidelines of the conference and the presenter's ownership of the content.

I take a quick pic of my session notes as soon as each session is done, so I can share them easily, if appropriate. For instance, if you've paid extra for a special session, you should not do this for people who did not also pay for that session.

5. Be On Time For Meals

Don't forget to eat! A conference keeps you busy from the moment you wake until the moment you hit the pillow at night. And when it is an extremely large conference, navigating the line ups for food is a "thing."

In order to cope with crowds and avoid not eating at all, make it a priority to know where and when your meals are, to not miss out.

6. Keep Alcohol Consumption To A Minimum

Decompressing with several cocktails can be very appealing. However, it's not good for our vocal health.

Further, a conference is a marathon, and in order to be in great shape all the way through (including when you arrive home and need to hit the ground running), you'll want to do everything in your power to stay energized and healthy. This does not include having a hangover.

7. Stay On Site When Possible

When you've allotted three or so days to participate in a conference, you'll want to maximize every moment – attending sessions, yes – but also connecting with new people and reconnecting with friends you only see at conferences.

I love dining in groups, but I highly recommend not straying too far from the hotel sites. You don't want to waste valuable time outside of the conference venue.

However, one caveat: do make time for fresh air at least once a day.

8. Stay Focused And Intentional

You've planned your objectives, so stay focused on your goals.

A conference is an investment of time and money in yourself. If you stay focused you'll reap more rewards by maximizing your experience.

9. Sacrifice Attending A Session Or Two For Quiet Time

Sometimes it's all too much. There's no shame in having a siesta!

If you don't want to melt into a puddle at the end of the conference, I highly recommend taking a few moments to re-calibrate in your room. While you may miss a session or two, a rest in a quiet place will provide you the energy you need to carry on your conference tactics with intensity!

10. Networking Tips For Conferences

Networking at any time takes skill and courage. At a conference, it definitely takes strategizing, planning, and executing with confidence.

Thankfully, networking at voice over conferences really couldn't be easier. You have A LOT in common with everyone in attendance. Introverted extroverts, extroverted introverts… we're all quite a crew. But we have so much in common that striking up a conversation is extremely easy and so rewarding.

Following are five networking tips for a VO conference ...

11. Welcome meeting lots of random strangers

Sitting with people you haven't met, random seating at meals for example, will always provide an opportunity to network… and with a captive audience at that.

Don't be shy about mixing in with anyone you don't know in the voice over world. Most people are very good at welcoming you in immediately, including you in conversation, and introducing you to people you've never met.

12. Introduce Yourself To Everyone

…even in the elevator and at every meal.

Don't wait for others to introduce themselves. You've got one to four days to meet a bunch of new friends, and many could become your very best friends and/or your support network.

Whether in an elevator when you first arrive, early in the morning, or at any random time, put out your hand and be confident about saying hello. (You may already be friends on Facebook!)

13. Be Judicious And Deliberate About Handing Out Your Business Card

Don't just hand your card out indiscriminately. You're wasting your time and money.

Don't hand out your card upon introducing yourself. It's presumptuous. Ask for cards from those whom you are truly interested in – potential friends and clients, industry leaders, coaches.

It's much more graceful to ask for someone's card with sincere interest and then to elegantly share your card at the same time.

Be sure to have enough cards on hand for when you really want them, but don't be too concerned if you don't hand them all out.

14. Don't Ask People To Listen To Your Demo

…unless you have a really good reason.

We all have demos. Lots of them. If someone is interested in listening to your stuff, they will. If you want advice, ask for their business card and connect with them after the fact.

15. Reach Out To Each Person

I try to reach out within a week after meeting those whose cards I've collected.

I send a personal, individual email. It continues the thread of conversation and helps remind you of each other after the tsunami of introductions and conference excitement.

It doesn't matter if you don't know what to say. A simple, "great to meet you…hope you arrived home safely" will do.

Natasha Marchewka is… only human – a fact she fully embraces in her voice over work. She's authentic, down-to-earth and connects with her audiences on a personal level. With a full-time VO business since 2006, Natasha has experience and business acumen to accompany her warm voice excellence. She's worked with clients such as First Horizon Bank, Universal Studios, Florida Tourism, and more. Natasha is a co-producer and co-host of the "Speechless VO" webcast (@SpeechlessVO) and co-creator of Before VO, Natasha earned a BAA in Radio and Television Arts from The Creative School at the Toronto Metropolitan University. She spent several years singing in clubs in New York City and paying her dues in many different media and entertainment jobs. She has two teens, a rescue Dane, a miniature Poodle, and a love of Yoga and meditation.

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