So I offer you, instead, quick notes on the most significant of his contributive tips to beginning parade announcers:
1- There are differences in how to announce a parade for a) a
television audience, b) a radio audience and c) a (non-televised)
crowd audience. For instance, the TV announcer follows the monitor,
describing what is on the screen, while a radio announcer will focus
on issues directly within his line of sight, and a crowd announcer
(THAT'S US!) will focus on issues just ahead of what the crowd will
be seeing. The latter two may be nowhere near the TV monitor scene
and announcer could become distracted by viewing the monitor.
2- EXPECT THE FLOATS TO BE OUT OF ORDER - at least once, perhaps 2 or
3 times. This is where your script descriptions will be life-savers.
3- EMPLOY A "BIRD DOG" - to watch for the little tiny float number
that will correspond to the description in your script so you can
describe in order. This may be your stage manager (if that is in the
job description! Neither he nor I know if it is), a stage hand or
perhaps even a lucky, "chosen" member of the audience --.
Don't mention to your audience that it is out of order: just carry on
with the description as though it were in order.
4- ADLIBBING NAMES - may cause mind blanking -- for some reason,
announcers have been known to suddenly forget the name of their
neighbor, mayor or spouse when they spot them and want to mention
them over the microphone. So either don't name them, or just shrug
and accept it on and off mike if you've made an error. It happens.
5. SPEAK FASTER THAN YOU EXPECT TO - as the floats will generally
come faster than expected. With 100 floats in a mile, you'll
generally have 10-20 seconds to read your paragraph. Don't speed, but
leave out extra pauses. When it is slow, it is generally because a
tumbling group - which must stop to perform, has left a lag that just
before it runs to catch up and fill the lag. Otherwise, it goes
faster than you think it will.
6. So, there'll be LESS TIME TO ADLIB than expected. He suggests
mentioning community info (and toastmasters is considered the
community, too, folks!), teasers about what is coming up within the
parade, about WHO (if famous) is coming up in the parade, mention the
sponsors (who may have conveniently left you logo-wrapped food on
the platform), and other Chicago/toastmasters/parade info as
given out by Allen.
7. Don't forget to THANK YOUR WORKERS AND DONORS over the microphone
during your adlibbing. When you first arrive, FIND OUT THEIR NAMES,
ask them what they do. People love it, and volunteers and donors make
you look good, give their time for this parade, and deserve the
BRING HOT BEVERAGES for your throat. Cold constricts the vocal
8. SCRIPTS NEED LARGE FONT, SINGLE PAGES - This may or mayn't be
helpful for tomorrow's case, but generally 18-20 POINT FONT, with one
float description per page, is the best way to have your script
printed out. I know ours are marked as drafts, but I'll still print
and bring mine that way tomorrow in case the text stays the same in
any parts of it (though it may be supplied that way anyhow. Just
being prepared :) ).
9. Read through, READ ALOUD and HIGHLIGHT DIFFICULT WORDS or NAMES so
you have a bit of a heads up on correct pronunciation or tongue-
twisting challenges in the script.
10. CLOTHING - Dress in LAYERS as our great weather for tomorrow is
neither typical nor guaranteed to last all day. As for STYLE - think
NEW YEAR'S EVE announcers, as they're both bundled up and stylish.
FOR CAMERA - AVOID STRIPES. AVOID PLAIDS. AVOID BRIGHT WHITES.
Stick with solid colors, darker beiges, blues. Keep colors, shades
and styles simple so that you shine through, not your wrapping.
11. REVVING AUDIENCE (Ambassadors and when not on microphone): Think
of it as a warm-up for a talk show or television comedy: Tell them
what will happen. Tell jokes. Tell those hard of hearing to move
close if they like. Tell those too close they can take this time to
move further if they like.
Songs may not work, with the time and crowd constraints, but just
talk to them! Play to the crowd. Wave! Many people in the crowd don't
even know where you're speaking from -- wave to them: It lets them
feel special! And that's a good thing!!
12. About politics -- I asked if there were an acceptable way to
acknowledge Native Americans during adlibbing, without offending
anyone in any way. The answer thus far -- at this 2006 point -- seems
to be not really. I did not want to make a political statement in any
way, just a recognition. But I have to agree that the issue is too
sensitive still. My heart is there, but my mouth will stay silent and
hope there is a tasteful recognition somewhere in a float. YOUR MOUTH
WILL ALSO NEED TO STAY SILENT. On this and any other adlib that could
possibly become in any way cause for offense for anyone. Sorry, but
it's where we are now, guys. Feel free to email if you find a
successful way to mention it. I'm all ears, and sure I'm not the only
13. Which brings us to STAY WITH THE SCRIPT. DO NOT CENSOR IT. Google
the concept under recent news to find out why. We want to return, as
toastmasters, and can ONLY do that if we follow the script as
14. THE BEST ADLIB ------> S-A-F-E-T-Y. Allen told me we are not to
throw candy or anything to the crowd for fear of children running
into the street. Steve asked me if those on the floats would be
throwing things into the crowd, as one of his biggest concerns
through 26 years of parade announcing was watching children running
into the street. Or people running into the path of floats. Still,
in many parades, someone on a float will STILL throw something out
even if it's been prohibited by organizers.
SO; you cannot go wrong by reminding the crowd, now and then,
"parents, please keep your children safe from the path of the
paraders. “Go ahead and tell them straight out that some floats may
throw items the children may want to get, but that they can keep them
safe by keeping them away from the street. Make jokes based on some
of the float names/descriptions on your script: "Hold onto your kids
or 3 GIANT EX-CHICAGO BEARS, who are policing the area, will do it
for you, and we wouldn't want that!"
This kind of thing can be GREAT fodder for CO-ANNOUNCER banter: One
can sound shocked and the other serious, and you can play this into a
riff of any needed length to fill time and camaraderie.
15. Nonverbal CO-ANNOUNCER SIGNALS can be extremely helpful and can CHICAGO
be worked out in advance, even without previously meeting one
another. Steve and his co-announcer, Joanne Baumgartner, have a
system wherein one of them, deciding, that there is a portion or an
entirely of a page that they would like to read alone, will place
their hand over that portion of text and thereby so indicate. No one
sees, no sounds are made, and it fits seamlessly into their
16. When your announcer time is LIMITED TO A BRIEF PORTION of the
parade, as ours will be, all of these guidelines are helpful and good
to keep in mind, but it is additionally important to: KNOW EXACTLY
WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SAY, and be ready when your time comes. It
bears repeating here that you will especially need to keep abreast of
what float number is heading toward you, in case it has gotten out of
17. TOWARD THE END, three things happen: a) people begin preparing to
leave -- and they leave abruptly. b) the parade speeds up. Must be
one of those universal law things, it just happens. And c) You alter
your adlib commentary accordingly: Generally, you want to have
gotten your "thanks" and people's names in about 3 times by parade's
end, in a mile-long parade. Complete your scripted text, but be
prepared to help wind up the parade with your adlib words as well.
This, the end, is where you want to begin interspersing your final
Involve the crowd! Say, "Folks, I want you to join me in thanking
..." or " Let's give a