Calming New Tour Guides

It’s the time of year for many companies to be welcoming new tour guides onto the payroll. Which means a lot of people getting ready to lead their first ever tours in front of people. It can be pretty stressful.

Here are some things I recommend for getting over those first-day or first-tour public speaking jitters:

  • Memorize bullet points more than words. If you’re counting on reciting a script perfectly, you’ll get derailed very quickly when you inevitably trip up on a word of a script. Zoom out and know overall where you’re going, and use the bullet points as guideposts.
  • Imagine your commentary visually as ‘scenes’ of a movie. Then when it’s time to talk, you’re just describing the movie instead of remembering sentences, which is unnatural.
  • Be kind to your body. Lay off caffeine and alcohol. Make sure you’ve eaten something. Try to get enough sleep, and drink water.
  • Exercise. Consider exerting yourself through physical activity: run, jump, or shake your body to produce a natural high that you can use to feel energized for your tour. It gets you out of your head.
  • Breathe. When we get stressed we forget to breathe. Simple breathing exercises will lower your stress and calm your nerves.
  • Close your eyes and think about something that isn’t about you. In other words, get out of your head. Otherwise we start to spiral as we think about everything that could go wrong, and how our guests will be judging us.
  • Your travelers want to have a good time! They’re on your side to begin with.
  • Lead with your authentic personality. Drop the obsession with knowing everything. And if you miss saying something, just keep going. Don’t backtrack; they don’t know what they missed; focus on just coming across genuine and personable.
  • Remember positive body language: most of what a guest remembers comes down to nonverbal language, such as smiling and eye contact.
  • Imagine a ‘success scene’ – see them in your mind clapping, laughing, interacting with you. That’ll put you in the right mindset.

Studies have shown that people simply don’t remember much of a guided tour, which is a relief for the new guide terrified of the amount of knowledge ahead of them. I love to quote Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

— by Mitch Bach, for the Tourpreneur Weekly Digest