I’m not much of a sports fan. I never played sports and rarely watch it. My husband took me to a game in the eighties and I asked him if Mark Messier was the goalie. He hasn’t brought me back.
It’s all for the best anyways, because what really interests me about the games is what folks see and hear at home: the play-by-play. Not so much what they’re saying, but how they’re saying it. So I sat down in front of the TV to take in the NHL playoffs for the first time.
Jim Hughson is the leading play-by-play announcer for Hockey Night in Canada for a reason. His articulation is impeccable, and this has a lot to do with something we call forward tone. He speaks from the front of his mouth – rather than the back of his throat – which allows him to match the pace of the game with the pitch of his voice. Even for someone who wouldn’t know when to be excited in a hockey game, they would be able to follow Hughson’s driven sound.
Bob Cole has a great flow to his voice, but isn’t afraid to pause. When speakers pause, it gives the listener time to register what has just been said, then makes us wait in anticipation to what will be said next. It’s a measure of his confidence, which is key for public speaking. Where Hughson employs pitch, Cole uses a shift in volume and intensity to indicate a change in the action. So as the excitement builds, he layers what is happening with more volume and intensity. His voice gets louder and intense as the play goes on. He also pauses while we wait for the play, keeping the same intensity and volume as the last thing he said.
Not everyone who is a public speaker has to have a full bodied voice. Paul Romanuk doesn’t have the deep baritone of many announcers. But what I love about his voice is, he doesn’t drop word endings so we hear everything he has to say.
Dave Randorf is a passionate speaker. Even though he sounded a tad nasal the night I watched, he’s got clear articulation, good inflection and I love the guttural sounds he makes.
I listened to Gord Miller as well, who was doing the world hockey championships. Gord has a smooth style, and lands his thoughts, which gives us the time to understand what he’s saying. He blends his knowledge of the play with the real time happenings in such a concise and confident way that I actually followed the game.
This was an interesting exercise for me: I might even start watching for real. When we get that Connor kid!