Hello! My name is Amanda and I have been the area coordinator and panel moderator on Stage 3 since September 2014, and Stage for Adelaide/Perth 2017. This blog has been written as a guide for upcoming volunteers in the area, and is the welcome speech that is given at 8am on the Saturday morning (once you have all been collected from the vollie office). This is often repeated on the Sunday morning for any new vollies who join us. Please arrive as early as possible on Saturday morning (ready by 7 am) so that we can get your briefed and ready for the day (so that we can get some shopping time in before the panels start!).
Your other go-to Oz Comic Con staff member for Stage 2/3 is our wonderful AV tech, Phil Hobson.
Stage 3 is different to the other stages…
– We mostly host panels featuring the local and international comic book artists and writers, authors, and occasionally actors and voice actors.
– We try to create a less formal setting, more conversational, where the audience can get a little more involved. In this relaxed space, I have found that the panelists are more likely to open up and share fun stories!
– Often, there will be over 20hrs of research conducted into the panel topics and guests, with several prompt cards created with questions, to promote the flow of conversation.
There is a lot more pressure for Stage 1 in effectively facilitating question and answer panels for the high profile guests, as they have many more people vying for the guest’s time. Their structure is therefore quite different to that of Stage 3 as we usually have between 50-200 people at each of our panels. The question cards mentioned above are created for the smaller panels where not as many people ask questions.
VOLUNTEER ROLES: These roles alternate throughout the day/weekend (usually on hourly shifts) unless there is a specifically trained person, either from the previous year or from external training. This is discussed each morning/throughout the day, and I ask that everyone is flexible in alternating roles and times so that everyone can get to their lunch breaks and requested panels etc. I also ask that vollies be intuitive and help where needed at all times, especially as I am on the stage, and not on the floor a lot of the time, where I can mostly only speak non-verbally. Our days run from 7am until 6.15pm on BOTH Saturday and Sunday.
Mic Runners x 2: On the larger stages, they sometimes have trouble with attendees asking inappropriate questions (like the time someone asked Booboo Stewart to do a back flip). First of all, make sure it isn’t you who is asking – that question came from a volunteer >_< Basic rules for questions are: No sex, no drugs, no rock ‘n’ roll, nothing religious, political or personal. Nothing that will break WH&S rules! You CAN ask questions yourself, but only when there are no audience members in que.
So this is how you do it: I will ask if there are any audience questions. This is where you use your discretion. If there are a lot of attendees at the panel, field the question first – ask the attendee what they want to ask before they ask it to see if it is appropriate. If the guest is an actor/voice actor, ALWAYS field the question first. The comic book guests are generally ok with anything that is thrown at them, and if something IS asked that I don’t think is appropriate, I will ask the attendee to rephrase it or for them to rethink it and we will come back to them. During this time I will ask another question of my own to keep the conversation moving, or move on to the next person (at whom there should be another mic runner). I will sometimes provide hand gestures and point to number who will go first and direct the flow of questions. Communication is hard for me when I’m on the stage, so often I will give non-verbal signals, and my best volunteers have been able to ‘read my mind’ and gestures to make the area runs more smoothly. If you are mic-running you must look at me for cues as I can’t communicate with you without you looking at me! I’m not a mind-reader, although that would be handy!
This job is a lot of running around the room and into the crowd, and while there are usually stand out people at each convention who really enjoy this role, it is alternated throughout the day. If you enjoy asking questions (which you are allowed to do) or want experience speaking on the microphone/in public then this is also a good job for you.
You will often see me jumping down into the audience to help the mic runners get questions/manage questions, this is not because I don’t trust that they are doing a good job, it is just what I do. At the last con we had a squishy box mic that could be thrown around, that was a lot of fun, but a little harder to manage as it was harder to retrieve from audience members. Mic runners had to be more vigilant in it’s application.
Front Door People x 2: You are the first people that attendees see when they get to the Stage 3 space so ‘HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!’… DID I MENTION HAPPY!! You assist with any questions about the schedule, guests, etc (ALL volunteers should make themselves familiar with the Stage 3 panel schedule and map when it is announced on the OCC website). Be aware that you may also be asked other questions such as where the ATM, bathrooms and other stages are. You also manage the lines for the next panel if people wish to wait and not join the previous panel (as we do not clear between them).
Whoever is on the door is also the attendee counter for the panel, has a special clicker, and is responsible for writing down the attendance numbers on a clipboard in our info box which is kept under the stage or at the av booth. If you are looking for customer service experience or jobs in hospitality or retail then this is a good job for you.
Think of this role as also a SALES type role. Talk to AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE who are walking past about what is on the stage, and try to get them to come in and sit down for a while.
Back Stage/Door Person/Guest Handler/Stage Manager: You direct attendees to enter and exit through the front, not from the back if possible. You also welcome the guests/panelists and signal me that they have arrived. You provide them with water if they want it. You also assist the stage manager with rearranging the stage for the next guests.
Usher – You assist the Front Door People in seating audience members. In large panels that we know will be quite busy, we try to fill up from the front if possible. You also assist anyone who has mobility issues to ensure that they are comfortable in the space. You let the AV person know if the sound is loud enough at the back, and make sure that all attendees can see the stage and screens properly. You keep an eye on the isles and doors to ensure that they are clear of people, bags, children etc for a safe exit (in the case of emergency)at all times. You make sure that Platinum ticket holders are seated in the front row (which we keep clear for most panels until they start – we bring people forward if there are fewer people). We DO NOT clear between panels.
When do I get/how long is my break? Can I go see panels on other stages? When can I get photos/autos? Your break is usually an hour long and that is when you can go and experience the convention, HOWEVER, I am quite lenient – as long as we have all of the roles covered at all times, we can negotiate.
So, to recap….
Rule 1: Stay hydrated/snacked-up. I bring a snack bag, but byo if you can.
Rule 2: DON’T WANDER OFF! Yes, it happens. Bored and don’t have a role? Ask a question, or sit quietly in the back row. DON’T look like you would rather be anywhere but at Stage 3 – you can ask to be reallocated to another area if you are unhappy. If you need a loo break, make sure you tell someone/get them to replace your duty while you are away.
Rule 3: If you don’t know something, don’t ignore it/turn an attendee away, just ask. Phil and I love answering all your questions, and your fellow volunteers are your friends who are there to help.
Rule 4: If something is wrong, please tell someone! ASAP. Not kidding. We want to provide the best possible experience for everyone at all times!
Rule: 5: If you have a cold/flu, PLEASE stay home. The con flu is real, people, and we sure as heck don’t want it!
Rule 6: PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY (in your pocket) if you have a designated role. UNLESS you are showing an attendee the Oz Comic Con APP.
Rule 7: BE HAPPY! BE EXCITED! You are at Oz Comic Con *wooooo* ^__^
From your OCC vollie pack:
Feel free to enjoy the mood of Oz Comic-Con, but be aware you are also the face of the show. Wigs and hats are permitted, as long as they appropriate and do not cover your T-shirt or stop you from performing your duties in a professional manner. I urge you to reconsider being TOO outrageous with your outfit, hair, and makeup. Key note here is PROFESSIONAL. Do enjoy yourself but don’t forget you are here for a reason and we need your support to do a professional job. We reserve the right to ask you to remove items that may impact your ability to perform your duties in a professional manner.
If any previous Stage 3 vollies have anything to add just let me know via facebook or the comments below! Looking forward to meeting you at OCC real soon!! xx