The demand for competent, entertaining show announcers is high, and Brian O'Connor says he would like to see some more people try this line of work. O'Connor announces at Dressage at Devon, Dressage at Saratoga, the Winter Equestrian Festival, Festival of Champions and more. Here he offers eight tips for stepping into the announcer's booth:
1. Have a pleasant voice and attitude. Be informative but not condescending.
2. Cultivate your people skills. A successful announcer is good at working with all kinds of people.
3. Hone your knowledge of the sport. The more you know, the more informative you can be. Know the rules, for example.
4. Learn how to multi-task. A call comes over the radio that there is an emergency in the barns; the freestyles are about to begin, with riders' music at your fingertips; you need to make an announcement for a lost child as well as a weather forecast of an impending thunderstorm. You'll need to juggle all that information, sounding cool and pleasant all the while.
5. Be flexible. Situations change, and you will be asked to adjust to them.
6. Don't blabber on. When it comes to passing on information, less is sometimes more. Get to the point, and don't ramble.
7. Seek out a professional, and ask if you can shadow them in the announcer's booth for a while. Don't forget to promise that you will be quiet as a mouse and not distracting.
8. Get some real experience by volunteering at small shows, perhaps schooling shows put on by your local dressage club.
Read more about O'Connor in "The Man Behind the Microphone" in the April 2007 issue of Dressage Today magazine.