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Communication Skills for Tour Guides
Tour guides need to communicate effectively. It is of utmost important that your travellers understand the information and ideas shared by you. Take a look at the few components of communication skills for tour guides to communicate effectively.
An important part of the communication skills for tour guides is having open communication. For communication to be successful, always encourage open communication. You can have open communication by engaging your travellers, asking questions, inviting their feedback and point of view. Do not use a convincing or superior tone as open communication means accepting the different point of views. This will help to increase understanding of the different type of travellers you meet. It will also help to collect more knowledge about different culture, places and things, thus improving yourself as a tourist guide.
Being a good listener is one of the best ways to be a good communicator. By listening, you can understand the needs of your travellers better. Always practice active listening. There are three steps of active listing. Step one, pay close attention to what your traveller is saying. I think as guides, we will tend to rehearse what we want to say in our heads. As a result, this cause us to be distracted and unable to listening attentively to what travellers have to say. Step two, ask questions to clarify. If you are in doubt as to whether you understand, always ask questions to clarify. Step three, paraphrase what your traveller is saying to ensure that both parties are on the same page and have the same understanding.
Listening is an important part of the communication skills for tour guides. Of course, as tour guides, you cannot be only listening as it is your job to guide and tell stories to your group.
Speak Clearly, at the Desired Pace
As tour guides, we always have a lot to say and eager to share. However, at times, your travellers might not be native English speakers. Also, they might be tired from all the travelling and have a short attention span. Therefore, always remember the 5Cs and KISS. Keep the information and storytelling clear, concise, correct, complete and concrete. By that, you do not beat around the bush, use difficult words or tell false information. In addition, always remember to keep it short and simple (KISS). As a guideline, the desired pace is 110 to 140 words per minute.
Other than what you speak and hear, it is also important what travellers see and how you portray yourself as a tour guide. Non-verbal communication is also an important part of the communication skills for tour guides. Your body language, eye contact and hand gestures are all part of the message and stories a tour guide is conveying.
Some tips for tour guides include always adopt an open stance, showing hands as it depicts a welcoming and trustworthy message. Never fold your arms as it implies that you impatient or angry. Maintain eye contact with everyone in the group. This is especially so for big groups as you want to include everyone and make sure no one feels missed out.
Take a look at other articles in this series, where you will learn about what it takes to be a tour guide. The articles include how to be a good tour guide, interpersonal skills for tour guides, handling situations for tour guides and qualities of a great tour guide.
The writer is a professionally trained tour guide in Singapore. She shares her learning journey from an excellent tour guide to a great tour guide!