ESPN's FIFA World Cup Announcers
Reveal Two Lessons For Voice Actors ...
July 9, 2014
By Dan Hurst
Boy, the best example of the difference between announcer, polished/professional voices and natural, conversational voices is the FIFA World Cup TV coverage!
Just watch one of the shows, even if you hate sports.
Itís amazing to me how different the announcers sound when they are reading from the teleprompter or "announcing,Ē from when they are just interacting with the guest commentators.
I probably shouldnít mention names, but the most notorious to me is ESPNís Lynsey Hipgrave (sorry Lynsey). Her over-pronunciation drives me nuts. But then thatís not much of a trip.
Then there are the clowns that have no clue how to correctly pronounce names, which Iíll refer to in a moment.
THE ANNOUNCER - 'PROFESSIONAL' SOUND
Watching the games has been a serious reminder to me of how easy it is for voice actors to get caught up in sounding like "announcersĒ or "professionals.Ē
In fact, recently Iíve received instructions from clients that want me to sound like an announcer or a "professionalĒ in order to sound humorous! What does that tell you about how clients think about "professionalĒ sounding voice talent?
However, the truth is that sometimes clients want that sound. I have a number of clients that insist on that sound.
Sometimes itís that stern, professional announcer sound. Sometimes itís that high-energy infomercial sound. And thatís fine; there is a place and a time for that.
On the other hand, itís critical to remember that weíre voice "actors.Ē If we are going to succeed in this business, we need to know how to sound exactly like what the client is looking for, whether itís an announcer, or a confident businessman, or the guy/girl next door, or the story-teller. Or anything else!
PRONOUNCE IT RIGHT!
One other thing that drives me nuts on these shows: Canít ESPN afford to hire a consultant to teach these commentators how to pronounce the names of the people and places they quote?
I heard Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, a couple of ESPN announcers who thought they were pretty funny, refer to "Casta Rica,Ē mispronounce "Europa,Ē and mispronounce "Herrera.Ē
Now, I realize that perhaps mispronunciation is all part of the charm of these announcers, but such is not the charm for voice talents. In fact, in our case itís just unprofessional.
BUT I SLIPPED, TOO ...
Before you stone me for being over-pretentious and dramatic, let me tell you a little story of what happened to me recently. I also am guilty of what I speak.
I have the privilege of being able to voice projects in two different languages, thanks to parents who decided to raise me in a Spanish-speaking country. It wasnít really my choice (I was only 10 months old), but I wanted to be close to my mother.
Anyway, I sort of consider myself to be fluent and fluid in two different languages. However, a client in Argentina hired me to do a medical narration. No problem. I do those sort of things all the time.
MY CLIENT LAUGHED ...
However, this time I had a brain fart and mispronounced the Spanish word for "pathologyĒ throughout the entire 20 minute narration.
It didnít take long for the client to call me, and put me on speakerphone with his entire staff who thought it would be quite amusing to read my misquotes back to me. Oh sure, they had fun. They thought it was hilarious.
My point is that we, as voice talents, are expected to know how to correctly pronounce words and yet sound comfortable and conversational at the same time.
Wanna avoid being the brunt of your clientís jokes?
Lose the over-pronunciation. Be conversational. Sound like you know what youíre talking about. And for heavenís sake, pronounce the words correctly! Including Costa Rica.
Dan (Daniel Eduardo) Hurst is an experienced bilingual (English and Spanish) voice talent operating out of the Kansas City area. His business now extends internationally, with clients including Maserati, Boehringer Ingelheim, British Petroleum, Kimberly-Clark, McDonalds, Volkswagen, Telemundo International, Shell, Hallmark, TransCanada, Walmart and many more. When heís not working, he spends his time cheering for losing sports teams and getting kicked off of golf courses.
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