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Marketing: Conference Clarity

with Liz Atherton

It’s that time of year when VO folks from around the globe are making plans to attend conferences. And, as always, the questions loom: “Which one(s) should I go to?”, “Why should I go?”, “Are conferences worth the investment?”, etc. Host Anne Ganguzza and special guest host Liz Atherton discuss coffee, conferences, cocoons, cards, carry-aways, and the pros and cons of making the leap from the booth to actual face-time with other VO pros.


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. I have my coffee and that is an important thing!

  2. Jerry Ganguzza – the man of the hour who shows his love through food – and it’s worth EVERY. SINGLE. BITE!

  3. The new year is upon us; it’s time to choose a conference or more!

  4. VO people are truly a business – what better to find trends and opportunities than a VO conference.

  5. VO artists live in the cocoon of their booth – conferences are an excellent way to get out and mingle!

  6. The VO community is VERY supportive!

  7. Experience other creative people helps you to become more creative!

  8. Hanging with like-minded people is where it’s at!

  9. As with ANY work, continuing education is key!

  10. Investing in your business, yourself is a MUST!

  11. Don’t think you can just sit down oneday and be a successful VO artist.

  12. You must prepare, educate, get out, and “go to the away game”!

  13. Go to them all one way or another – they all offer something good, one way or another.

  14. Get the most out of your conference: Your conference is what you make of it!

  15. If you want to spend time networking – do that.

  16. If you want to spend your time learning, do that, too!

  17. Get exposed to all the different exposure that you can!

  18. Plan! Plan! Plan! Your VO conference experience!

  19. Do your research – know who you want to meet and meet them!


  21. Agents/Producers/CDs – avoid being the drooling fan – be professional – no cornering, no stalking!

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

Join us at Camp VO!
Meet Anne at VO Atlanta!
Check out OneVoice
This conference and award show is a must see: That’s Voiceover
Learn about VO as a business at VOcation 
Learn from some of the best at VO Mastery
Canadians have conference too!: VO North
For all of our lady VO’s: Voxy Ladies
If you’re a WoVo member, this conference is just for you: WoVOCon
Find out about 
Recorded on ipDTL
Awesome editing by Carl Bahner


>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premier business owner strategies and successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS. Now let’s welcome your host Anne Ganguzza.

Anne: Welcome, everybody, to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my special guest cohost, Liz Atherton, the Queen Bee. Hey Liz. How are you?

Liz: Hey, Anne. I’m doing good this morning. How are you doing?

Anne: I’m doing great. I have my coffee, and that’s an important thing.

Liz: Yes, coffee. Always coffee. I have mine too.

Anne: My New Year’s resolutions, well one of them, to lose more than 20 pounds, but you know, I’m intermittent fasting, which means my coffee is black this morning. Normally I take my coffee with all types of cream because I love cream, and Stevia. I don’t do sugar, but I do Stevia. And so right now until I’m out of fasting mode, it’s black coffee with Stevia.

Liz: Good luck with that. It does work.

Anne: It does. It really does. It contains my eating hours to eight hours. So it kind of has to work.

Liz: And you do live with Jerry.

Anne: I know. That’s the thing. He shows his love through food. And so –

Liz: He’s awesome.

Anne: And speaking of, by the way, I am so excited – that just made me think of conferences. Because there’s a conference coming up where Jerry is actually going to be the chef for the conference. What do we call him? The special chef?

Liz: He’s the snack czar. The snack czar.

Anne: The snack czar. [laughs]

Liz: So we came up with a new conference this year called Camp VO, and it’s only 150 campers, and then we have about 30 to 35 what I call VO influencers. In one way or another, they’re participating and will be at camp either as a guest speaker, as a table talker, so that you can share a meal with them, or you can go eat some of the most delicious snacks in the world created by Jerry Ganguzza. Jerry Ganguzza! He’s awesome.

Anne: Yes, here’s a little promo for my hubby, Jerry. But let’s talk about conferences, because it’s the beginning of a new year, and there are always many, many conferences to choose from. I know that I’ve done a previous episode on conferences. It’s good to keep ourselves up to date. Let’s talk about conferences. Are they beneficial or are they just a, you know, money drain?

Liz: So you’re a VO. How do you spend your day? You send it in four padded walls, right, or three, in your case right now, because you’re in that great –

Anne: I’m in the tri-booth. I’m in the awesome tri-booth. Yes, I’m in the three walls.

Liz: Exactly, but you’re in the walls. And you may be talking to somebody like you and I are talking now via headphones and mics, but in general you don’t get that physical bonding. So I think conferences are an excellent way to get out of your cocoon because VO is a huge cocoon industry. You know, that’s what I call the booths, the cocoon. Conferences are remarkable because you get to actually go to a place where you’re sitting with other people who do what you do. And you know that that’s not that many. When you go to the grocery store, and you meet somebody, say “what you do for a living?” “I’m a voiceover artist.” “Nice.” They just don’t necessarily know what it is.

Anne: And they say, “where have I heard you? [laughs] Where have I heard your voice?”

Liz: You’re doing good, Anne, you’re doing good if they’re doing that. So conferences are great, you know. And then of course the big one that everybody talks about is VO Atlanta which is a fantastic conference. It’s 800 and some odd people, but the real beauty of these conferences in my humble opinion is meeting people. I’ve never met a more cohesive group than the whole voiceover community. And I think everybody that’s listening to this podcast would agree. So conferences are a way to step out of your cocoon. So I think they’re very beneficial.

Anne: Well yeah, I think the community aspect is super important because, like I always like to explain this about watching a good movie. It’s always wonderful to just get out and experience other creative, creative people, people who are creative, so it helps you to become more creative. It helps you to refresh and to really kind of reignite that passion, what got you into voiceover in the first place kind of thing. You’re talking with like-minded people. We don’t do that on a daily basis.

Liz: It’s exactly what you need. Because you get out, and you get ongoing training.

Anne: Yes.

Liz: If anybody doesn’t think they should have continuous training, they’re crazy.

Anne: Continuing education is important. So people are going to say, so which one, in terms of money, which one should I invest in?

Liz: Yes.

Anne: I always want to talk about the entrepreneurial business aspect of this industry because in the end, we’re truly a business, and we’re not necessarily going to last in this business if we’re not out there gainfully improving ourselves and our skills, and getting out there, and learning what’s new, what are the trends, and how can we improve our business? And I think, any type of voiceover conference is a great way to do that, and you can talk to colleagues, you can talk to leaders in the industry, asking them how can I improve my business, how can I build my business, how can I get jobs, how can I get gigs, all of that is also another very important aspect of being able to go to a conference.

Liz: And there are various kinds of conferences. There’s things like the ones where you’re going to go see the Comic-Con. Right? Which is a conference and voiceover people go to it. You’re gonna get to meet the people that are the voices behind animation and things like that. That’s a great one. There’s VO Atlanta, where it’s just so many opportunities to get training of one sort over another, from people who you’ve heard about.

Anne: I think it’s definitely worthy of an investment. So as a business, right, you have to always be considering what are you investing in your business. There’s so many people – oh gosh, it makes me a little bit crazy, because so many people I know, they’re trying to get into this industry without spending a dime. Number one, they have misconceptions about the industry and what it takes to be in the industry. The other’s that they don’t – they’re not thinking with a business mind.

Liz: You have to think with a business mind.

Anne: And you have to consider this as an investment, and yeah, some of that money that you just made on that job will be going back into your business so your profit margin may not be as high, but I think, I’m going to say that honestly all of the years I’ve been in business in this voiceover industry, it wasn’t until I started to reinvest my money into things like conferences, into things like virtual assistants to help me, you know, build my business and grow it, I did not grow until that happened. And it was so funny because I used to be such a control freak. There’s a surprise. [laughs] I like to control everything and for me to give it up and hire somebody else to help me or do something for my business was huge for me.

Liz: And people fret about it. But for the parents out there listening, who put their kids in soccer, right – so you go to soccer, and you’re paying to be on the soccer team usually one way or another. You’re traveling with that soccer team, and why? So your kid can get really good at soccer. Why wouldn’t you do the same for your own voiceover business? Why wouldn’t you try to be the best you can be? You go to college to get a degree so you can go try to be an engineer, or a mathematician, or a schoolteacher or whatever. Voiceover is the same thing. Don’t think that you can sit down one day and be a great voiceover. You have to invest in yourself, absolutely.

Anne: I always try and make the comparison, if you worked in the corporate world, like I did, you know, you spent your years going to school, going to college, getting your degree, training, whatever it is that you did, to do what you do 40 hours a week or maybe less or more, but whatever that is, you spent that time preparing and educating. And so why would you not want to do the same for your own voiceover business? That includes going to conferences. That includes getting out and going to the away game. Right? The away game would be your conference.

Liz: The away game. The away game is your conference. It’s also your opportunity to see the other people that are doing it. So yes, I think people should invest in conferences. As to which one, I think you should go to them all one way or the other. Not necessarily in the same year, but you should try. I mean, you shouldn’t miss them just because some of them are just a thing you need to check off and do.

Anne: I think they all offer something different too.

Liz: They do.

Anne: VO Atlanta is very – it’s probably I’m going to say the biggest one that’s out there right now.

Liz: I think so.

Anne: A few years back, it used to be VOICE with Penny Abshire and James Alburger that used to run the VOICE conference. That was actually the first conference, and so kudos to those two, love you guys, Penny and James. But I think Gerald has the largest conference right now, and he has a lot of educational offerings, a lot of tracks. If you want to find out more about, for example, I’m going to be presenting there in corporate, so corporate and e-learning. If you want to find out more about corporate voiceover, or you know, voiceover for e-learning, you can go to the e-learning track, and there will be panels, there’ll be breakout sessions, there’ll be accessions, intensive sessions that you can go to. And I also think that VO Atlanta is a networking opportunity as well. He’s also one of the first that had a lot of casting opportunities there. He invites casting directors and talent agents to be in on some of the activities there at the conference. So I think Gerald is probably the largest. It may be overwhelming to some, if it’s your first conference –

Liz: But you still need to go. You still need to go, you still need to experience it, to contrast with that as Camp VO. We’re topped at 150 people. All of our classes are all-inclusive. We don’t have separate tracks. You come to Camp VO, these are the 10 classes that you’re going to get an opportunity to sit in, but you’re also going to get an opportunity to network. We’re limited on people because we’re not trying to compete. We’re a different conference altogether.

Anne: Well yeah, and I think that’s a good thing when conferences are different, and they have different offerings. For example I know that Camp VO is going to have a lot of very different class offerings than let’s say, VO Atlanta.

Liz: My favorite class offering is “The Moist Read, Talk Dirty to Me.” I’m sorry, it’s just my favorite. But the idea is e-learning books and erotic books are a big business. You don’t want to sit in the class, you don’t have to sit in the class. But if you do sit in the class, your teachers are somebody that, you know, one of them has done 200 books. That’s a pretty impressive book, but it’s different. It’s just a different thing altogether. Our big thing is building community because a lot of people who leave the bigger conferences say, “what’s your biggest takeaway?” “The people I met.” So we put “the people I met” as the front-end, but they’re all beneficial.

Anne: A few years back, and I’m not so sure if that wasn’t their last one, there was Faffcon, and Faffcon I think was the first conference of its kind to really be small and intimate. That was that offering, so that you could get a very intimate experience with other voiceover artists. And it was run differently as well. It wasn’t, here’s your course offering and then you decide to take it. The attendees would decide what topics they wanted to talk about. And then there would be a person within a group that has a specialty, let’s say. I’m thinking Liz Denesra, right, with telephony.

Liz: Right.

Anne: And she would host a breakout session on telephony. But for the most part the attendees of the conference would put the topics that they wanted to talk about on the board. Or if you were a specialist in a particular topic, you would put that on the board, and people could sign up. It was a very, a very different, very small –

Liz: That’s cool.

Anne: Yeah. And it’s a very cool way to run a conference. I don’t know if that was the last one, which was, what, last year or the year before, I believe?

Liz: Yeah, they didn’t have one in 2019. The last one was 2018. I don’t know if they’re going to do it again. I never experienced it, but a lot of people say, is Camp VO that? No, it’s not that. Yes, people loved Faffcon.

Anne: Yep. And there’s also WoVO. They used to have one conference a year, now they have a couple. VO North was the start of it last year where they had it in specific locations. So WoVO is typically in Vegas. That’s also a smaller, more intimate conference. And you know, WoVO’s mission statement is a little bit different. So you’ll have different offerings there as well. Yeah, what other conferences am I missing? There’s MAVO. The mid-Atlantic, run by Val Kelly.

Liz: There’s VO North.

Anne: VO North, that’s part of WoVO.

Liz: Is it? I don’t think so, with Tanya Buchanan?

Anne: I thought VO North was part of WoVO.

Liz: I stand corrected if I’m wrong. I know that people went to it last year and loved it. I know we’re giving away a ticket to VO North at Camp VO.

Anne: Absolutely. So let’s talk about what people can do to get the most out of their conference. Because now that we’ve talked about the conferences, and people have probably purchased tickets already, what can people do to get the most out of their conference? Let me start by saying your conference is what you make of it. Right? It’s exactly – I like to say, your class is just what you make of it, because you know, the educator in me comes out. I think you can learn something from anything if you put your mind to it and you set your mind to it. Your conference is what you decide to make of it. If you want to spend the majority of your time at the conference networking, then go ahead. But if you come back saying you didn’t get any educational value out of it, I would tell you to think again about how you actually conducted your own conference, right, and how you decided to spend your time during the conference. Because I think there’s plenty of time for you to do both at most conferences.

Liz: And people should plan, really plan. Like for example, at VO Atlanta, there’s so many opportunities to get, you know, a plethora of training. Pick which ones you really want to make sure that you go to. You want to get informed, go to the panels that are going to inform you something you don’t know about already. If you’ve done it and you know a little bit about it, pick something else. Go learn something different.

Anne: I always think that’s a great idea. Great idea to just get yourself exposed to all the different, all the different types of education that you can, and yes, plan because they just came out as a matter of fact, what, yesterday, with the schedule. Because I was looking at it myself, finding out when I was going to be speaking. But they came out with the schedule. So I think your best bet is to go take a look at the schedule, figure out what genres and what tracks you’re interested in, and then start making out a schedule. I do that for any type of conference that I do. First of all, a conference is, it’s an investment. It’s usually not a cheap one because in addition to the conference, you’re paying for travel and maybe hotel. And so I want to make sure I’m getting the most out of my money. So I’m going to plan myself into oblivion. But some people wing it. I would say, if it’s an overnight conference, try to get the most of the educational aspects of what you can do during the day, and then at night you can network. There’s usually events, you know at night, to help you to do that.

Liz: And if you’re really going to network with friends, go a day early.

Anne: Yeah.

Liz: Stay a day afterward, you know, go out on Friday night when it’s all said and done. But if you’re going to invest in the conference, get as much as you can out of the conference.

Anne: Sometimes there’ll be, I know Gerald has an app for his, but you know, make a printout of the schedule and just carry it with you. I hate when I get lost, and then you miss the session and then you try to do something else, and then your whole schedule becomes a little bit out of whack. If you’re not prepared when you go, print it out or use the app that is usually provided for the conference if that’s the case and try to stick to your schedule.

Liz: I think the biggest thing is to plan, but go. You need to go.

Anne: What about networking? What should people bring to conferences?

Liz: Some way to take notes for certain. You want to have something marketing wise that you can leave with them. I know a lot of people hand out business cards. I’m a big fan of the one where you take a picture of their little blurb thing, and it puts it in your phone.

Anne: Yes, I think that’s an updated card trading method.

Liz: There’s an opportunity to network real wide or real small. I personally think if you network small, say listen, these are the 10 people I really want to meet, that I know that are going to be there, and I’m gonna find a way to meet them, as opposed to meeting 200. You can go meet that 200, but you may not remember them. You know, in your future you’re going to want to do a demo. You know you’ve got Anne Ganguzza there and some other demo producers. Make an opportunity to sit and meet with Anne. See if you click. See if it’s somebody you can work with, to help you get your best demo out or if you want the business sides of things. Maybe you’re really trying to step into the LinkedIn world or the online marketing world or the CRM world. Find out who’s gonna be there to do that, and make sure you meet those people so that you can reach out and learn more from them when you step away from the conference.

Anne: Now I know a lot of people, they fret about what should they bring to the conference. You had mentioned business cards. So I just wanted to kind of make a point about that. Yes, you can bring business cards. Sure. I’m actually a fan, like Liz, you were saying about, you know, scanning it into the phone. I think that that’s a great paperless way to go, if you can. If you decide to bring business cards, I think a good way to remember – because I come back with a stack of business cards and I’m like, “oh my God, who was this?” So if that happens, write notes on the back of the business card of who it was, how you met them, so that it helps you to remember them once you get back and want to put that into your CRM software. Or even better yet, what I used to do is I would have people hold up their card and then take a picture of them holding up their card. That way I could –

Liz: That’s a great idea!

Anne: Yeah. I could always zoom in and see who it was, and I could remember so much more about them when that happened as long as they were OK with me taking their picture. That, to me, I use my, gosh, I use my phone for everything. Everything.

Liz: I know, mw too.

Anne: I must have like 20,000 pictures of my cats and people with business cards. But yeah.

Liz: That’s a really great idea. I’ve even seen business cards with places on the back for notes, which I thought was interesting. I don’t know that that’s what I would do with mine, but I have seen them out there.

Anne: What about swag, Liz? What about swag? I know a lot of voice artists want it, they want to create swag. I think that that might stem back from, we all want to have stuff with our own name on it. Do you know what I mean? But do you think it’s worth it to go to a conference and give out swag?

Liz: I’m going to tell you, from a business side, the best swag investment I ever made was stickers. Little CastVoices stickers. They’re little. We did a thing when we had a booth a couple of years ago when we had people put the CastVoices sticker on the back of their phone, and then we gave them some kind of win for doing that. You know, thanks for the win. But the stickers, I’ve also handed out stickers in Austin, and I went to a conference one time, and I saw my sticker on the back of a computer. I was like, now that’s cool.

Anne: That’s cool.

Liz: Another time when the sticker’s paid off, I was a guest speaker at J. Michael’s event which he puts on a great mini conference as well. On the back of my computer, I had AFS for Austin Film Studios. And ends up, the guy that I was sitting next to on the flight won an Oscar for his music. And he looked, and he goes “Austin Film Studios, I’ve been there,” which started off a conversation, and we talked for hours.

Anne: That’s awesome.

Liz: So the stickers, even though you think it’s no big deal, it actually is kind of a big deal. I’m a big fan of the little stickers. People usually peel them and put them on their computers. You may not do that with yours, but mine is covered in them.

Anne: Do you think it’s necessary for voice talent? Because let’s say they’re going to go to a conference that has other voice talent. Right? You know, is it worth it for them to invest money in swag? Because are they selling to voice talent? That would be one question that I would have. What’s the purpose of the swag and do you feel that it’s necessary to hand out your swag to other voice talent because you may or may not be selling to them?

Liz: I would say no. I would say, if you’re going to be doing something swag and you know that there’s gonna be 10 agents there that you want to talk to and five casting directors, be real smart with your swag and make sure you put it in their hands.

Anne: Yeah, yes, good ideas. Like small quantities of swag for the people that can do something to help grow your business. I like that.

Liz: Something that they can touch and they can see. You know, bribe them with cookies. I’ll never forget my macaroons.

Anne: Cookies! That’s a great swag gift. Like think about it.

Liz: If you’re going to do something like that – isn’t it Mary Morgan, Mary Moran? Mary Morgan?

Anne: Yeah, she makes macaroons. Yep, she does!

Liz: And I’ll never forget. And then KJ. Do you know KJ?

Anne: Yes, I do.

Liz: KJ made, she crocheted these unicorn –

Anne: Oh yeah, that’s right.

Liz: I still have mine, but here’s the thing. I didn’t know KJ when she handed that to me. And now that’s endeared to me. Like oh my gosh, that’s from you. And the same with the macaroons. Of course that macaroon’s long been consumed, but those kinds of swag, here I am as an agent, I got to actually meet those people, and I remember. So if you’re going to do swag as a voice talent, then do swag very targeted.

Anne: Yes.

Liz: If there’s someone you’re trying to meet –

Anne: Great advice.

Liz: – don’t be a drooling fan, but you know what I mean.

Anne: [LAUGHTER] Don’t be a drooling fan.

Liz: Listen, I’m going to tell you, agents and producers and casting directors –

Anne: Oh my gosh, yes, please.

Liz: Listen, I’ve been to these events, and like I was at VO Atlanta –

Anne: People do drool I bet, probably physically drool on you.

Liz: They get in your way, and they won’t let you go. And that’s so uncool. You’re like –

Anne: Yeah, guys. BOSSes, be professional when you’re meeting an agent.

Liz: And don’t corner them.

Anne: No drooling.

Liz: No drooling, no cornering them, no stalking. No “oh, I see you’re in room 511.” What the hell? No, none of that. Just say “oh, you’re Bob. Nice to meet you, Bob. I made these cookies for you. I promise it’s not poison. Yes, please eat.” Something like that that says meet me. Everybody is walking up to agents and saying “oh, listen to my demo, listen to this, listen to that.”

Anne: Of course.

Liz: And you’re like, and the agents are overwhelmed as well because, you know, there might be five or ten agents and 800 voice talent. That’s a lots of people to talk to those agents, and they know it, and they run.

Anne: Good advice. Well, that was a great chat about conferences. Guys, we want to hear from you, BOSSes. What conferences do you go to, and what are your best tips? I think that would be awesome. Go ahead and write us at, if you’ve got something. Maybe we’ll include it in our next podcast episode.

Liz: That would be terrific.

Anne: Yeah. I’d like to give a great big shout-out to our sponsor IpDTL. You too can connect like a BOSS and find out more at You guys have an amazing week and yeah, maybe we’ll see you at the next conference.

Liz: Yay!

Anne: Take care, guys.

Liz: Take care. Bye-bye.

>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host, Anne Ganguzza, and take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via IpDTL.