Anyone Can Learn Public Address Announcing
that means you too!!!
Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. If you have the desire and enthusiasm, go for it! The world needs good public address announcers of any age. Good announcers make a difference for companies, organizations and institutions they work for as well as their surrounding communities. As a good P.A. Announcer, your contributions to events will get noticed, subsequently, opening up new doors in your life and career.
Below, we delineated steps you can follow to get yourself start in the grand world of public address announcing. You can follow them to a “T” or design your own process. Chew over the age-old game of hopscotch. If ya think you can do it, toss your stone to square number 3 and hop directly to it. If you can’t quite make it, back off to square 2. No harm. No foul. We just want to get you thinking about how to get out of dead center and on to the nearest mic!
We wish each of you all the best and implore you to reach out to us with questions, comments, criticisms and suggestions. Of course, we, most definitely, want to know how you are doing and what you have learned. We constructed this whole website and all the wonderful resources herein with YOU, the Public Address Announcer, in mind. Enjoy and keep us informed on how you are doing and how we can help.
Public Address Announcer: an orator who conveys information publicly, often through the use of a public address system, megaphone or other audio amplification device.
Eh? Yep. How simple! If a man, woman, boy, girl or, even, prairie dog gets on a microphone and tells a crowd information, specifically during an event, they are acting in the capacity of a public address announcer. Notice we did not mention sports. That’s right. A person can announce non-athletic as well as athletic events. Consider the voice everyone hears announcing celebrities to the stage at the Academy Awards. There you go. Got it?!
If you’re hankering to do sports, understand that the p.a. announcer does not call in-game action like a play-by-play sportscaster. The public address announcer falls in between things like plays, batters, innings, quarters and periods. Yes, there are a couple exceptions like auto racing and horse racing but, for the most part, announcers stay out of play-by-play. If this is what your idea was, cool. Head on in to the broadcaster world. It is very competitive but, there is, also, plenty of room for new folks that arena, too.
Whether you like sports or not, you can get on the microphone and announce. Sure, many folks lean toward announcing in sports but, understand right out of the gate that you don’t have to announce sports. Yes! You have choices with announcing!
Ponder the idea of being a public address announcer for your city’s subway system. How about announcing an event which supports a cause such as juvenile diabetes or autism? There are many, many choices over and above athletics. Here’s an idea. Try a variety of categories!
If you love the idea of a lot of people hearing your voice simultaneously, maybe be it’s time you FIND A MIC!
It can’t get any clearer. If you’re hunkering to try out public address announcing, your best move is simply to get on a microphone somewhere. Don’t get wrapped up with how much you do or don’t know what you are doing. We recommend trying out your talent in a youth sport you know or maybe a non-athletic event where they simply need a person to read copy and make occasional announcements.
If Spring is upon you, give Little League/Pony baseball a shot. Your entire responsibility encompasses announcing batters to the plate and playing a bit of music. How easy!!! How about into the Fall? Maybe some Ice Hockey fits the bill. Calling out goals and penalties for youth hockey is a heck of a lot of and all you’d be on the hook to do. Ring up a friend who works in a local non-profit and see if there is a forthcoming event for which you could supply the voice. Very cool, right?!
The point is you can get your feet totally wet in youth athletics and local events where it will be OK to make a mistake. It’s kind of an innocuous approach to indoctrinating yourself into the p.a. announcing world. So often, youth sports have nothing but players, officials, parents and scoreboard. Having an announcer with a little bit of music will get you more pats on the back than you’d ever imagined. In so many cases, a local non-profit bounces off of walls to get good help.
Now if you feel you know exactly what you need to be doing, go try some high school or community college. If you are a greenhorn, we do NOT recommend getting your feet wet on Division I or II athletics. Trust us when we say they do not appreciate announcers stumbling around on the microphone.
The bottom line is get yourself on a microphone and try. Choose a benign environment whereby you can learn about yourself and your natural abilities. Build a bit of confidence and determine if you want to take a next step in your announcing adventure. If you decide you want to make the leap into higher levels, we highly recommend you GET EDUCATED.
We’ve been asked so many times about the #1 skill of a p.a. announcers. Some folks get flabbergasted when we tell them it’s not mighty pipes. The #1 skill of announcer (of any profession for that matter) is listening. Listening, to no surprise, stands out as the biggest part of any education as well.
Attend some events. Watch sports on television…just more closely. And, listen-in to different levels not just pro ranks. Candidly, the new announcer will likely land in the amateur sports world of college, high school and youth. We recommend checking out high school and college contests of any sport of your choosing. Turn up your ear focus to hear how others perform. Mandate listening as one of your primary methods of training. If you happen upon a unique opportunity to watch an announcer work, make the most of it. Watching a good announcer hard at work is a fascinating learning experience. Remember, we all learn from others.
Oh my, oh my. You will discover a wide variety of styles. Over time, you will develop your own style as well but, for now, become a sponge for information. Some things you will hear will be awesome. Other things shall disappoint you. Keep in mind to listen in observation/education mode. Do not pass judgement on anything you hear. Allow your brain to gather information about announcing you will choose to use or not use later on.
Listen, listen, listen. If you attend, say, a high school or college contest and like how an announcer performs, don’t hesitate. If feasible, go say “Hello!” after the game. Ask some questions. Announcers are absolutely the nicest people. Of no surprise, most announcers love to chat. They will, certainly, be happy to talk to you about announcing. Use any opportunity to fill your head with knowledge and what better place to collect know-how than from an announcer doing the job!!!
How about right here at publicaddressannouncer.org??? Gracious, YES!!! This entire website exists to support p.a. announcers and those that hire them. Check our TOOLS section for forms, pronunciation guides, tongue twisters, officiating signals and much more! Peruse the AMPLIFIER and the STACKS for engaging and edifying articles on public address announcing.
Continually learn! Like any other profession, the responsibility to learn and retrain falls on you. Houses need fresh paint every once in a while and so do careers. Careers require constant tending to turn out right. Make no mistake, it will all come to you and self-discipline. If you don’t constantly listen, read and practice, all your announcing efforts will come to pieces. Speaking of practice, let’s Start Practicing.
Did you hate practicing the piano as a kid? If so, you need a bit of introspection as to whether a career in announcing or broadcasting is right for you. Why? Practicing announcing or broadcasting fundamentals is rote and fastidious just like practicing the piano. Beginning to whittle away at your craft takes time and patience. Do not expect to show up to any venue, grab the mic and expect things to go well. They will not.
Yes, basic p.a. announcing is easy to do; however, basic p.a. announcing is not easy to do well. No, it is not. And, notice we stated basic. Advanced p.a. announcing takes time, practice, education and experience. What’s the difference? Basic p.a. announcing involves reading copy, introducing rosters, making basic in-game announcements about the contest – depending on sport, announcing the score and such. Advanced p.a. announcing digs into the ability to ad lib with situations which occur during an event as well as knowing how to manage enormous speaking requirements in front of many people without a hitch. The experienced announcer knows what to do if lightning shows up in Texas at a football game (…and the first thing is not to climb on the microphone…). Really good p.a. announcers arrive with a cornucopia of background on how to manage their situation throughout any event. For now, let’s just stick to the basics, ok? Good.
First things first, let’s be clear that announcing is a physical job. Using the voice non-stop for 2-3 hours straight is physically demanding and not on just your voice. You super-focus your brain. When you speak, many muscles go into play above and beyond the jaw, tongue and voice box. You sit up in a chair for hours which means the back works very hard during a contest. An announcer’s hand is busy writing away notes and scribbles. The p.a. person’s eyes labor, and I mean labor, during an event. Quite a number of press boxes leave the windows open. Why? Glass obscures and everyone wants the clearest view of the game at hand. What this means is the announcer is subject to the hot weather or the blistering cold. Lots and lots of physical demands are made upon an announcer which many people do not realize. For this reason, we recommend taking care of yourself. Eat nutritiously. Drink lots of water. Exercise regularly. Uhuh, this is all part of practicing.
One additional physical demand is funny but serious. The announcer is the last person administration wants leaving their chair during an event. Therefore, needing to use the restroom can be utterly stressful on an announcer. For this reason, many of us limit our fluid in-take before and during a game. Trust us when we say the lion’s share of announcers will go squeeze like mad before an event.
Second, the voice requires regular workouts or it gets cranky and scratchy thus, prohibiting the announcer from performing at their best. Your voice is critical. Take the time to learn how to care for your voice by reading this article by clicking on the guitar below:
Now, make an effort to educate yourself on warming up. The following article goes through vocal warming-up in detail (Click on the burner to learn more). Before you practice at home…before you sit to work at an event…nothing penalizes more if you don’t do it or benefits you greater if you do do it than vocal warm-ups.
Third, find yourself some good copy to read. Read constantly out loud. Record your voice reading then, listen with a readiness to objectively critique yourself. Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read. Get the message? If you have syllables you struggle with, hit the tongue twisters. Tongue twisters represent the piano scales of announcing. There are a mountain on this website. Just click the mouth and wrench to the right! Leverage them to your advantage. No one is perfect. Everyone has weak areas to address.
Practice makes proficient. The first time practicing is discouraging. Don’t give up! Keep at it. The slow, determined, persevering turtle wins the race. Saying “Now batting for the Spartans, shortstop, number seven, James Willoughby” is a piece of cake to do at home. Speaking that line in front of hundreds, or even thousands, with no mistakes, not missing a beat, for nine innings, plus all the copy and anything else required of an announcer on the fly is something entirely else. So for heaven’s sake, practice. Luck favors the prepared.
For an announcer, 80% of the effort is practicing, preparing and gig hunting. One announcing job is never enough. The ongoing self-marketing and promoting effort is never ending. 20% of an announcer’s life ends up being the contests and events themselves…if it is even 20%. Believe me, we make the 80% effort to get to the 20% we really want to do in every profession. It’s all true.
Where do you hunt? Friends and colleagues make a good start. That’s right. If you know folks in the community to reach out to about opportunities to get on the mic, stop reading this right now and go make a few phone calls. Procrastination is a career killer. Making best use of your own contacts gets you charging off the line and into the race. Believe me you, organizations WILL get someone on the mic and it might as well be you, right? Right!!!
Now, expand your borders. Know this: some announcers love announcing so much that they will go on safari to get to a microphone. How far are you willing to drive for a job? Good. You’ve just set some limitations for yourself. Take that radius and make a list of all the schools, colleges and organizations within your periphery and start reaching out. Even reach out to the Milwaukee Brewers if you feel so compelled. Will you get laughed at or ignored? Likely. So what?! Reach out again. After a while, folks are going to begin recalling your name coming up over and over as a name that announces.
You do not care about the 1,000 rejections. You are only interested in the 1 that calls you back. Ha! Be persistent. If you want to announce, you will not ever stop. Right here on this site we have a directory of thousands of organizations which you can begin building your own call list. Use our tools. They are free! Why not, right? Click on the BIG MAP to get going!
Make business cards. Hand them out wherever you are. 99% will get thrown away. So what?! It’s the 1% that hold on to them that you are interested in. Create yourself a website if you are inspired. Put pics and recording of yourself for folks to go see (Click on the Business Cards below to visit a fun p.a. announcer website). Stay positive. The world needs new good announcers constantly. If you stay on it, you WILL land a gig. If you stay on it AFTER you find a gig, you will get even MORE gigs.
Get ready to Land A Gig!!!
OMG! It happend!!! Well, maybe they just want you to drop by and speak a bit into the mic to see if you can do what you claim to do. It doesn’t matter. You got the call. Be ready! Luck ALWAYS favors the prepared.
Treat the entire exercise as any other job interview. This means prepare. You will have to answer questions. They will want to hear your voice. Be ready! Warm-up your voice as you drive there and walk across the parking lot to the stadium.
And people, dress for success. An unshaven face and board shorts will not build confidence. How about and jacket and dress slacks for a first impression? You betcha. When you arrive to meet new people for a gig, set the tone that you are a professional there to do a professional job. Likewise for you ladies, super-high skirts, leggings or disheveled hair will not do you any favors. We cannot emphasize the extreme high-value of first impressions. Minimize the jewelry and other accoutrements of your day-to-day person. Practice good eye contact and body language. A confident handshake travels a person many places. Like any interview, you want to leave them with a high-opinion impression of you.
Sure, many places it makes no sense to wear a suit to every game. A lot of press boxes are on the dirty side. We are talking first meets-and-greets. Showing up as a well-groomed professional will do you an incredible services before they even hear your voice. We call it “Stacking the Deck”. Prepare, dress right, arrive early… All items one would do for any job, right? Announcing is exactly the same. Always stack the deck in your favor wherever plausible.
Once you are in like Flynn, ask about dress expectations. Some places will want you wearing logo-wear. Others will have a basic requirement on dress. Yes, some will want you in suit pants and a jacket. Deal with it. It will be part of the gig.
And on the subject of expectations, make sure you know their expectation of everything from what time to arrive to voice inflection. The more data you have, the better professional you will be. Information is king…or queen. Lack of it is a joker or spade. We do not advise building your gig or career on a house of cards. Get your data.
Be clear on what the job pays. Make sure you understand, specifically, who you are working for game day. You will discover, more often than you think, you might very well be working for game operations and gameday marketing at the same time. Last but not least, understand billing and billing cycles. We figure you might want your cash SOME day, right?! Of course, you do.
Another thing to get straight right away is additional duties they may expect. Are you on the hook for scoreboard, music or both? Are you prepared or comfortable to do extra tasks? We find the widest gap between administration and employees always lies in nebulous expectations. Clear it all up Day 1. Never assume anything. Get your questions answered then there’s NO confusion.
Show up game day early. Have yourself organized. Connect with who you work for. Review your paperwork. Check the rosters and clear up pronunciation issues. Plop in the chair. Blast off! Focus, focus, focus. Make a note of your mistakes (Yes, you will make them). Smile a whole lot! Have a grand time and make yourself a big hit with the crowd!
Finally, landing yourself a gig is great but, the work ends not there. Keeping the gig is 100 times the work. Always being prepared, early and professional will go a long way to them feeling like they can depend upon you on a regular basis. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of consistency and dependability. Have yourself in order.
And please, have fun! Yes, there are big responsibilities with announcing but, still, have fun!
NOTE: You may discover yourself being assigned as a “regular” backup. Don’t be down on this. This is actually great and, if you do a good job, you will get the call every time a place is in a pinch, which turns out to be more often than you would have ever imagined. Be ready at all times! If you do a good job, you WILL get the call.
You got yourself a gig now. Start to Network Madly!
Shake many hands. Hand out your business cards. Send emails. Make phone calls. While you are at an event, be sure to mention to those around you that you do other sports as well. If you have been contracted to do an entertainment event, let them know you do voice-over if that is in your toolkit. Keeping play-by-play skills in the back pocket? Tell people around you about it.
This is NOT the time to be shy.
Transparency rules in networking. The more people knowing more about you will lead to future opportunities. Career management takes discipline and perseverance. You may not receive the call today or tomorrow; however, two months from now, while you are cleaning out your garage, the phone will ring from “such and such place” needing an announcer to fill-in on a Saturday. You agree and head off. You do great! Before you leave the venue, they throw 2 more dates at you. That’s networking!
Get to know other p.a. announcers in your area. Shake hands, darn it! These folks will reach out to when they need a backup. When YOU need a backup, you will be reaching out to them. How symbiotic! Engage with the play-by-play folks as well. Guess what?! They do p.a. announcing as well. If you do play-by-play too, let them know so, you can get the call when THEY are in a pinch. Catching on yet?
More colleagues means more work. More contacts means more work. Leverage LinkedIn and Twitter. These are the social networking sites for business. Follow and Connect! Interact everywhere. Interaction leads to more gigs. What a surprise, right?!
If you do not value networking, you will be out of business as soon as you are in business. You must be a good salesperson for yourself. Tout your sports and events. Talk about your other abilities. Be complimentary of others.
Does a professional athlete stop practicing once they’ve been signed to the Kansas City Chiefs? Does a voiceover actress quit getting retrained once hired for a major motion picture? Does a singer stop warm-ups now that they have a record deal? You know the answer.
No different than any other career, announcing requires regular practice and care. The best announcers never stop working at it. This means they never stop conditioning in one form or another. Never. They learn new names. They study sports rule changes. They chase gigs. If you want to be successful, convert your sprint to a marathon. Find your pace. Get moving and never stop.
Your voice will go kaput without regular warm-up and practice. No announcing to do? Run through some tongue twisters. Read a excerpt of a book or poem out loud. Listen for issues and nuances. Find any issues? Fix it yourself or get some help. Only a dummy refuses to ask for help when they could use it.
A quarterback gets a twitch in his arm. He knows what it is. He works on it. He cannot figure it out? He gets with a doctor. Your voice is organic and using it is physical. You WILL have issues. However, issues can only be uncovered through use. This is part of the reason for practicing. Stay on top of your tools! A rusty tool will not bode well for you.
Practicing, also, means good exercise and nutrition. How are you going to take care of your voice? By letting your body go to pot? Smoke? Stop. Drink? Limit. Eat much? Diet. Tire easy? Exercise. Feel lethargic? Rest. Under the weather? Doctor. Why take a car to regular appointments??? C’mon! Realize car appointments are analogous to getting your annual physical. Keeping things in good condition, again, takes discipline and perseverance. It’s a best practice!!!
What the heck is that snake??? Folks, that is the symbol of medicine known as the “Rod of Asclepius”. Asclepius was the Greek God of Medicine. Often, the caduceus shows up in logos as representative of healthcare. This is incorrect usage. The caduceus staff was carried by Hermes who had nothing to do with medicine. There’s your lesson in Greek mythology for the day!!!
It is 100 times as important to take care of business off the microphone. Don’t invest yourself in announcing and then, foolishly ignore the fundamentals to keep it all going and growing. “Staying on it” is a major skill. If you don’t have this ability, we recommend you attain it quick. Announcing is physical and requires a mentality of high maintenance to keep it all on the move.
Conditioning is pivotal and you need to Keep Digging!!!
Smile, smile, smile!!! You would be amazed what a smile does above anything else. A friendly smile causes those around you to relax with confidence. When folks feel you are friendly and good to work with, you get called back. You may not even be the greatest announcer but, you will get the call because they are comfortable working with you. Smile.
If you struggle with sales and networking, go get some training on it. When you are building a new career, there is no shame in not knowing what you are doing. On the other hand, you should be very embarrassed to go around hiding a lack of knowledge or skill which could be easily attained simply asking for help.
Now, get busy connecting and, for heaven’s sake, Practice Steadily!!!
We are not going to say, “Good Luck!” Rather, we encourage you to “Keep Digging!” Leverage what we have presented here to build your own plan of attack. Announcing is quite exciting but, lots of hard work. You can do it! We believe in you already!
If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out! We will help you as much as we can…for FREE!!! Use all the tools and articles at this site. publicaddressannouncer.org was conceived and constructed with YOU, the public address announcer, in mind. So, make it work for you!!!
Keep us updated on your journey. We really want to know. Feel free to connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn. We’re happy to network with you. Tell us where the site helped you. Inform us areas of the site which are useless. We learn ourselves from all kinds of sources but, mostly, we learn from folks just like you.