Is Public Speaking A Closer Relation To Tourist Guiding Than Performance?

What is the correlation between public speaking and tourism? Public speakers make use of the same three principles that tourist guides do. Laid down by the father of heritage interpretation, Tilden Freeman, they are to provoke, relate, and reveal.

  • ‘Provoke’ doesn’t only mean to be provocative, or annoy, but to provoke the thought process; to start the audience thinking about a particular subject through a question, statement, or example. The opening of a speech can do just that and speakers often make good use of rhetorical questions. Speakers can raise an issue by mentioning it and then allow the listener to ponder it.
  • To relate the subject to a group’s understanding, experience, and culture gives them a shortcut to comprehension. A tourist guide wants their audience to ‘latch-on’ to ideas quickly and to move into an emotional connection, which is what many speakers aim for. You may have heard it said that you should research your audience, know what makes them tick or what keeps them awake at night. What if you can’t, or don’t have the time because you are standing in for the original speaker? The tourist guide rarely knows who their visitors are going to be – where they are from, their age, sex, religion, etc. It could be said that guiding is totally untargeted and the only thing the visitors have in common is their interest in the subject or site that you are visiting. To ensure your audience have a good time, help them understand more by relating what you are talking about to their lives.
  • To reveal (make a revelation) the speaker must first create anticipation. Placing a pause just before the answer to a question, or before an explanation, creates anticipation. Pause for a few beats then continue, or respond. The audience will enjoy the intrigue and wait with bated breath. Create the bated breath.
  • Repeat the cycle of provoke, relate, reveal all the way through the presentation.
  • The guide makes their presence known to a group with salutations and a welcome. This ensures that everyone knows they are on the right tour and relaxes them. So before beginning a talk, think about how you will greet the audience. How will you get on and off the stage (or into the space) and always be introduced, wherever possible. How you are presented to the audience matters, so know how you want to be referred to and the exact words that you want your introducer to use. Write the introduction down in the order you would like it to be said and ask your compere to practice until you are happy – get them to copy your intonation, if necessary. This sets your scene, positions you and helps to create an expectation.
Sarah Myers

Sarah Myers

Sarah Myers runs Strategic Speaker – premium, intensive masterclasses utilising a combination of performance and guiding skills. She holds a B.A. in Performance and has the teaching diploma (LGSM).

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Published On: 14th Dec 2015

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