“What the heck is an Un-Conference?”, I asked.
Here I was, having just barely managed to attend the fabulous Dan O’Day Summit in Los Angeles (due largely to the help of the self-described Second Nicest Guy In Voiceover), and now, at the “wrap party”, I was being encouraged to commit to yet another trip to the west coast within 60 days…for a completely different something-or-other called an Un-Conference.
Had it been anyone other than the wonderful Amy Snively doing the impassioned talking, I probably would have found a way to politely opt out. But tired as I was, (and broke as I was), Amy’s enthusiasm was joyously infectious. I’d “met” her through our conversations on the vo-bb (voiceover bulletin board…and if you aren’t part of the vo-bb.com, shame on you), and found her even more vivacious in person. I have yet to meet anyone Amy can’t charm. Luckily, she only uses her powers for Good, not Evil!
As I recall, she’d gotten the idea of an Un-Conference from her husband, who traveled to a lot of scientific conferences where attendees noticed they sometimes got more out of the time between formal lecture sessions, just talking and sharing ideas with fellow professionals. Why not, she thought, do something similar for Voice Talent?
Amy knew there are already enough traditional Conferences, many of them quite good. No need to compete. But rather than being just some glorified “bull session” (my term, not Amy’s), this Un-Conference would be semi-organized but largely ad-libbed, with various attendees prepared either to lead or merely start a one-hour discussion…and plenty of slots for other attendees to post a topic he/she wanted to know more about. Someone else in the group could then spontaneously take on that subject.
No lectures. No one-way communication. No “here’s a sample…now buy my book/study course”. Just the “Good Parts”. No egos. …and, for the most part, No Newbies. Now before I offend anyone, let me explain.
This is one of the most frustrating aspects of training for me. I’ll think I’ve finally found someone who has the answers I need…only to learn that I already knew most of the stuff being presented. Not that it’s without value…it’s just aimed at the beginner. And while there’s a lot I don’t know, I don’t need to keep repeating Voiceover Kindergarten.
An Un-Conference (in this case: Faffcon) allows me to spend time with fellow professionals who have practical experience in areas I’ve not mastered. And it’s a free exchange of ideas…offer what you can/take what you need. So while I’m pretty well off in the Acting and Setting-Up-A-Studio department, I’ll load up on the Self-Promotion/Marketing/Business/Internet/Social Media stuff where I’m really not up to par.
I’ve been to the first two Faffcons so far, and have sat in on Marketing and Self-Promotion sessions facilitated by the same people both years, getting new and valuable information each time…partially because each session had a different mix of attendees, with additional ideas on the subject.
And it’s also great to finally meet some of these talented friends I’ve only corresponded with over the years…some of whom seem to think I’m pretty talented too.
I expect no less from my next Faffcon, which will be held September 23-25 in Hershey, PA. You can register here. And I hope you will.
By the way, the word Faffcon (in case you’re wondering) was coined using a term from the UK: “faffing about”. It’s evidently used to describe semi-aimless activity, lacking a ultra-somber and serious tone. And that’s okay with me. Turns out we voice talent can have a great time faffing about, and experience a lot of satisfying, useful (and yes, profitable) give and take with like-minded friends.
It’s fun, it’s helpful, and it’s less expensive than some of the more traditional conferences out there…with a smaller attendance cap which keeps things more intimate, inclusive, and friendly.
Besides…this time, there’ll be Chocolate!
— over and out —