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To Grow Professionally, We Need Each Other -
Network, Learn & Play At VOICE 2014 Convention

July 30, 2014

By Penny Abshire
Voice Talent, Coach
Co-Producer, VOICE 2014 Convention

Imagine for a moment going through this life with no one around to encourage you in your chosen career. No one to give you praise, no one to listen to you, or no one to lead you in the right direction to accomplish your goals, no one to lift you up when you fall and no none to learn from.  

Perhaps you don’t have to imagine - this may be your reality. I hope for your sake that’s not the case.

But even if we have people in our lives whom we love and who love us, they aren’t always the best ones to help us with our acting careers.  

One of my favorite quotes is by comedian, George Carlin:
"Those who dance are considered insane - by those who cannot hear the music.”  
Simply put, we creatives are often misunderstood, cast off as being rather "odd,” and looked upon by the straights as being, well … kinda crazy! They don’t hear our music,  so they think we’re nuts when we start dancing around.


But they can still love us even if they do think we’ve lost it.  

For instance, I have found that going to my family for input on my voice work is futile at best.

First, they aren’t in the business and therefore cannot really understand what they are listening for.

And second, it’s really unfair to ask them. What exactly do I expect them to say? Am I just looking for praise? Probably. It will merely stroke my ego.

Now, while that feels nice, it won’t help me get better at my craft.


I need someone to help me with an informed opinion – another voice actor whom I respect. 

In recent years, the voice over industry has done a spectacular job of creating networking opportunities online. There are extensive websites, newsletters, webinars, online magazines, groups, discussion groups, blogs, workshops and clubs offering suggestions and help to anyone who needs it – not to mention Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin.

It’s fantastic! We are all so blessed!  


But there comes a time when we also need real (physical) contact with our fellow voice artists.

In-person events, conferences and conventions afford the opportunity to not only network, but also to learn from the stars and professionals of voice over. The upcoming VOICE 2014 convention (August 27-30, Anaheim, CA) - is a prime example.

You may have already attended one, if not all, of the VOICE conventions. But if not, perhaps you believe it's not for you? For instance, you might be thinking:
  • I don’t know anyone who will be there;
  • I won’t fit in because I’m just a beginner;
  • I’m embarrassed that my skills are not good enough and I might be called upon to perform;
  • I’m basically shy;
  • I don’t have the time, and the biggest reason . . .
  • I can’t afford it.
So, let’s talk about each concern individually.  

1. I don’t know anyone who will be there.  

If you’ve been in the voice over community for any length of time, you know that voice actors are some of the friendliest people anywhere.

It’s always amazed me how congenial and encouraging everyone is - not only at the events, but in general. At a convention you will gain a whole group of new friends before you know it!

But to do this, you have to walk through the door.  

2. I won’t fit in because I’m just a beginner.

Just remember this: NO ONE will know you are "just a beginner” unless you tell them! I’m not suggesting you lie, just pointing out that it’s pretty rare at one of these events to have someone ask how long you’ve been a voice artist. That’s because it’s irrelevant!

We’re not "pros” or "newbies” – we’re voice actors! You’ll find it’s a pretty level playing field.  

3. I’m embarrassed that my skills won’t be good enough and I might be called upon to perform.

If you are embarrassed about performing, you are indeed in the wrong business!

However, it can be intimidating to know there are lots of pros in the audience with more experience than you. All I can say is that you will never get past the fear if you avoid any opportunity to face it.  

4. I’m basically shy.

See answer above. Actually, as a producer of VOICE, I get this question a lot: "I won’t know anyone and I’ll feel completely out of place.”

And my answer is always this: "The moment you walk through the door, you will have a few hundred new friends!”

At the four previous VOICE conventions, I have never, ever seen a person standing alone in a corner waiting for someone to talk to them.  

5. I don’t have the time.

Really? You are so successful and busy in your voice over business that you don’t have the time to network, learn from others or just come and play?

Well, if that’s the case, I sincerely say, "Good for you!” But know that you are missing out on the chance to network and meet some really great people - and we’ll miss seeing you at one or all of the events.    

6. I can’t afford it.  

This is a biggie for lots of people and one I can certainly understand. My suggestion is to attend the events you can afford. And if you can’t afford any of them, then do as much networking as you can for free by using the various online social networking opportunities available.  

We try to make the conventions as affordable as possible, but understand that not everyone can be there.

However, success in any career requires a commitment of time and money in order to grow. There will come a time when "I can't afford to go" will become, "I can't afford NOT to go!"  

As for affordability: If you do some research, you’ll discover that voice over events are some of the most affordable of any industry. Similar trade shows or conventions for other industries often start at $2,000 or more just to get in the door.  

This I can promise: Those who make an investment in their careers by attending networking will never, ever regret it.  We do need each other.

Yes, there are billions of us on this planet and yes, there are thousands of people doing voice over. But when you boil it down, we are all connected.

I have just as much in common with someone doing voice overs in India as I do with someone in Indiana. 

We are creative, intelligent, courageous, and innovative people. And when we come together to celebrate that - magical things happen!
Penny Abshire is a voice talent, voice over coach, director, writer, and co-producer (with James Alburger) of the VOICE conventions. With Alburger she also operates the VoiceActing Academy in San Diego, CA, and is founder of the Positive Thinkers UNITE social media group. She is the recipient of the Omni Intermedia Award for excellence in copy writing, a Communicator Award for production, and multiple Silver Microphone Awards for performance, among other accolades. She also wrote the popular book, Demo and Marketing Magic for Voice Actors.  

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