He’s got the loudest voice in Canada and the Hawaiian shirts to match. London Olympic Stadium announcer Garry Hill tells SPIKES how to speak to 80,000 people at once.
Enunciation, enunciation, enunciation
It is no use saying anything if people can’t understand you. The voice has to be crisp and clean. My role is something akin to being a stage actor because we only get one shot at it. I had a real epiphany listening to the stadium announcer at the 1991 World Indoor Championships in Seville. I couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying but I heard real emotion in his voice.
Get carried away
When Rudisha was coming towards the finish of his Olympic 800m final at London 2012 it was obviously a very special performance so I put in a couple of wo-wo’s. It is as much an art as a science. I always liked Henry Rono [the Kenyan multiple distance world record holder] and I got a certain satisfaction from saying the name of the Madagascan hurdler Nicole Ramalalanirina.
Maybe he’s born with it
I think being a connoisseur of wine for four decades has definitely helped my voice become deeper! I was never classically trained but I definitely try and develop my voice from deep within the stomach. Also, my stadium announcing voice is not quite my real voice.
You say tomato, I say tomahto
I think English-speaking countries are the toughest because they are no hard and fast rules. Take Nigel Levine [GB 400m sprinter]. Is his name pronounced Nigel Le-veen or Nigel Lev-iiine? I always try and ask the athlete or someone close to the athlete if I have any doubts.
Learn your lines
Last year at a Diamond League meeting in Eugene I got into my head that Mo Farah’s name was pronounced Mo Fa-raaah. I must have said it a lot because it was a 10,000m race. Ian Stewart, the UK Athletics head of endurance, was furious and I think he started calling the booth I was sat in halfway through the race.