Monday, September 1, 2008

Speech Training: Top 6 Tips for Announcers

Today my husband, daughter and I sailed from Singapore to Bintan Island, Indonesia for a week-long vacation. So here I am by the pool writing today's entry. Is that dedication or what?

The reason I'm telling you this isn't just because I want to rub it in that I'm on vacation right now, but also because the trip over here got me thinking about how clearly people need to speak when they make announcements.

We have heard tons of announcements today in the ferry terminal, on the ferry and even on the shuttle bus to our resort. I didn't understand one of them.

Announcers everywhere, take note! I don't care if you make announcements in a bus, train, plane or ferry, do the morning announcements at your high school, work at Disneyland, make announcements about lost children in huge department stores, or announce the blue light specials at WalMart, you must remember to alter your delivery slightly over the public announcement system.

Here are a few points to remember:

1. Slow down
You can't speak at the same rate over an announcement system as you do to your best friend over coffee. Slow down so we can better understand you.

2. Use pauses
Your announcement is not a race. Take the time you need to make your message clear. Pause between your sentences so the announcement doesn't sound like one long rambling instruction.

3. Speak clearly
Pay special attention to your articulation. Pronounce consonant sounds, especially at the ends of your words.

4. Love your job - if only for a moment
If you are the one chosen to make an announcement, you are representing your company, industry and/or colleagues. Put on a happy face and have a good attitude. It is so easy to hear a person's mood in their tone of voice. For the few seconds your announcement lasts, go to your happy place. When it's over, you can go back to being grumpy.

5. Don't put your mouth too close to the microphone
We've all heard mumbled, scratchy announcements where it sounds like the announcer actually has the microphone in his/her mouth. Make sure you aren't too close to the microphone. That will make your announcement fuzzy.

6. Get feedback
You should always have someone listening to your announcement so they can give you feedback not just on how you sounded, but also if they could hear you at all. Sometimes there are problems with your equipment that are out of your control. If you don't specifically have someone listening along with your audience, you might not realize that there's a problem.


  1. I guess the main reason why you couldn't understand a single word was because you are a foreigner and haven't gotten used to the local patois.

    Additionally, Americans usually can't understand any other accent other than their own, apart from a limited variety of British accents. It's a terrible shame, really. And they claim to be native speakers of English.

  2. Wow, I know this was a year ago, but that "Anonymous" guy is kind of a jerk.

    I have travelled the world and understood plenty of announcements, as well as misunderstood plenty. I can usually not understand my students (I work at a school) when they make announcements, either. I handed these tips out to them. Thanks for the advice!

  3. Ha! Thanks for the support, Chelsea! What "Anonymous" doesn't know is that I've lived in Singapore for 4 years, trained about 1000 top pilots here in announcement delivery, and hundreds of other professionals in accent training! There probably isn't an American in this country that understands the "local patois" better than I do! But even more importantly, the post had nothing to do with accent and everything to do with delivery. I'm glad you found it useful with your students!