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Virtual or in person? That is the question...

Things happen for a reason. That’s what I think anyway. Unfortunately, that reason is difficult to find when you are amid the situation. When adversity strikes, it can be difficult to take a step back and analyze the situation with a rational mind. And if you read my previous 3-part blog you will find that the mind is a fickle thing indeed!

The One Voice Conference in Dallas was held this weekend. I have been REALLY looking forward to this for the last three months. The last in-person conference I was at was VO Atlanta in 2019, which was just a fantastic experience. Since then, the pandemic had put an end to in-person conferences until the OVC organizers decided to hold their conference as a hybrid. In other words, you could attend virtually or in person. So, I bought my tickets to attend in person and the date of August 26th turned into my version of Christmas, like a 5-year-old hoping to get his first bike from Santa!

One of the reasons I love voiceover is the community. During the pandemic, I have met some exceptionally amazing people. I would like to think I can call them friends, yet that seems a bit weird as we have never met. And that is the world we live in just now. There are people that I spend an hour or more with every week online via Zoom or some other platform that I have forged amazing relationships with virtually. But for me, that’s not enough. I am a people person. I yearn to meet these friends in person to create that human bond.

And that was the attraction of the OVC in Dallas. Finally, the VO community could get out of their booths, out of the isolation and finally meet in person if you chose. And when the conference was announced, the pandemic seemed to be heading in the right direction. Deaths, hospitalizations and cases were all very low in Texas and the outlook seemed promising.

Then, as we all know, things started to take a turn for the worse. The Delta variant of Covid was starting to take a foothold in Texas. Cases and hospitalizations started to spike. I am a glass half-full kind of guy. Fully vaccinated and in my mind, ready to get back to some form of normality, while taking sensible precautions. The spike was a concern, but it was not causing a deviation in my plans. I was going to Dallas. I was going to meet my virtual friends. I was going to get back to a hybrid version of normality.

My suit was dry cleaned. New shirts were bought. My kilt outfit was ready to go for the award ceremony evening. Everything was in place. One more week and I would be driving from Houston to Dallas, for an amazing weekend of learning and friendship making.

And then, my 21-year-old daughter gave us the news that everyone dreads. The Thursday of the week before the conference, she felt really under the weather and took a home Covid test. It came back positive. She arranged an official PCR test, and it also came back positive. Shit. Fortunately, she only had bad symptoms for one night and started to recover quite quickly. The rest of the house took tests, and we were all clear. For the moment.

Then, on Tuesday, my wife started to have symptoms. She then tested positive. Her symptoms were worse but remained constant. Not to a point of major concern but there were some underlying conditions that had us nervous. Family comes first. OVC in Dallas was not going to happen in person anymore. I am not going to lie; it was hugely disappointing.

My OVC ticket was changed to online only. Meeting my new virtual friends was going to have to wait a little longer. Was the virtual conference going to come anywhere close to the real thing? Could it recreate the atmosphere of an in-person conference virtually?

Unfortunately, the answer to those questions was no. Now don’t get me wrong. The work that Hugh Edwards, JMC and the Gravy for the Brain team put in was amazing. The Reattendance platform Hugh has created is slick and works well and kudos to him and his team. I just don’t think an online platform can replace in -person at this time. There was no sense of community. No meeting people in the hallway or the bar. No opportunity to mingle and create relationships with any of the speakers.

The disappointment gave me a chance to reevaluate a few things. I was hoping that the conference was going to be a springboard to help take my career to another level. And that’s why I say that things happen for a reason. For me, I discovered that I am the only one responsible for taking my career to the next level. I was putting too much weight and expectations on what the OVC could do for me. That’s not JMC’s or Hugh’s fault. That’s my fault.

So, the next few weeks are going to be spent creating a new plan. I am going to adjust some goals, completely scrap some goals and do a bit of a pivot. And that’s healthy. You should not be so focused on your goals that you can’t take a few detours on your journey. In fact, it is quite healthy in my opinion. And I feel invigorated and ready for this new direction. See what I mean about things happening for reason?

And here is a quick update about my wife. She is on the mend after receiving the monoclonal antibody treatment. Everything is pointing towards a full recovery.

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