How Important is a Good P.A. Announcer?
An often overlooked, yet vitally important component of special events, particularly sporting events, is the public address announcer. He or she is the conduit between what is going on at the event, such as a basketball or football game or other highly attended public gathering and the crowd of attendees.
It can be as basic as announcing the starting line-ups, specific foul calls or the score, or as life-and-death as calming the crowd during an emergency situation. Not just anyone can do it. Not only do you have to have a great voice and not be afraid to speak in front of large crowds, but a full grasp of your environment.
A former college roommate, classmate, co-worker of mine and former KTAR newsman is now among the top P.A. announcers in the world. Andy McClure, who also served as a groomsman and announcer/DJ at my wedding more than 37 years ago, is the P.A. announcer for the men’s and women’s indoor volleyball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics! As far as I’m concerned, he’s an Olympian! The world stage is not new for Andy, as he’s announced high-level sporting events at national and international venues for many years.
Last week, Autumn provided some thoughts on polishing up your public speaking skills.
Here Andy offers up these (similar) tips from Tokyo on being a successful P.A. announcer:
- Know the game. This is not TV, but if you don’t know the game you will look bad and create issues for the rest of the game staff and officials.
- Review the roster of both teams with a coach. Don’t guess. There can be a couple of different ways to pronounce a name and you may just get one of those variants. Be willing to write names out phonetically to help you.
- Talk in advance with game officials to find out what they need from you and what you expect from them. Be friendly, but not best friends.
- If you have a broadcast director working with a floor manager on a headset who will be providing cues related to the broadcast, talk before the game to be sure all are on the same page. Some use a script, others have a monitor. Understand the flow of the game for timeouts, halftime and the open and close of the event.
- Lastly, have fun. It’s a ballgame! Don’t bring the attention on to you … the players come first!
The gold medal standard is very high.