nature guides: how to be a good guide
Don't do any of
the stuff that a 'bad' guide does. But
do more of these below
Tips for an interesting walk
Be interested in the visitors and they will be interested in you.
Pay attention to the visitors and you will get their
What do visitors want?
Most visitors would enjoy doing these during a walk. Are you meeting
- Spend quality
time with friends and family.
with all their senses.
- Sense of
achievement (the day wasn't wasted).
- Have fun.
tour to suit THE VISITOR
out more about the visitors BEFORE starting the walk. Chat with
them to find out
- Why did
they come for the walk? How did they hear about it? Have they
been on similar walks?
- What do they
- What do they
want to see/do?
- How much
time do they have?
Tell them more
about yourself and why you are doing the walk.
Manage expectations by explaining what they can expect to see, how
long the walk will take, outline challenges.
Show the visitors that you care about THEM
- Their comfort:
loo break, preparations
- Their welfare:
water break, safety, repellent, health
- Engage the
kids to engage the families.
- If the group
comprises people who don't know one another, get them to interact
with one another.
'leaders' within the group and get them on your side.
- Get their
contacts and follow up later!
should UNDERSTAND what you are saying
must be able to hear you. So speak up, speak clearly.
- Be interesting
to listen to. Be lively, point things out, act out behaviour.
- Be cheerful,
- Keep stories
short (ideally 30 seconds, max 1 minute) unless visitors
are VERY interested to know more.
- Use ordinary
words that ordinary people can understand. But don't 'dumb' down
things to the point where your facts are wrong.
- Make sure
your stories help ORDINARY people connect with the shores
- Use everyday
examples and analogies - "this is like ...": situations
at home or in the office, ordinary household objects, familiar
food and seafood.
- Use popular
topics: TV, movies, cartoon characters or stories
- Use topical
issues: financial crisis, the haze.
with common questions like "Can eat or not?"
that interest most people include "How does it have sex?"
but be careful when telling sexy stories as it may not be
appropriate for all visitors.
the pace, stories to match visitor interests and needs.
with visitors BEFORE starting the walk
all the talking!
You are NOT the centre of attention. The centre of attention should
be the VISITORS and then the shores.
visitors to interact by asking them easy questions. Questions
should encourage them to observe, discover and ask more questions.
- Don't ask
them questions that they cannot possibly answer. These make them
feel stupid. If they answer wrongly, say "yes, it is true that
it might seem so, but actually..."
visitors to ask questions. No question is stupid.
visitors to share their personal stories.
with what you found out about the visitors' occupations, hobbies.
- Get foreigners
to share about their own shores or situation at home.
- Get older
participants to share about shores in the past, grandmas to
share recipes/medicinal uses.
talk! Be interactive
things in front of the visitors.
- Help them
discover things. Even if you can see the animal, don't point it
out but ask them to help you find it. Describe what to look for,
and be excited when they find it.
visitors to interact with their surroundings using all the four
senses: touch, smell, listen, see
- Look up,
look far, point out scenery, sun, wind, fresh air.
visitors to find things. "What can we find here?" Get excited
about what THEY find. No find is boring and uninteresting.
- Use visual
aids to explain: a guidebook, intrepretive panels.
Set a good
example of a gentle visitor to the shore
- Don't feed
- Don't 'save'
- Don't kick
- Don't poke
anything with pens/sticks/chopsticks
- Avoid stepping
on rocks which are covered with living things, seagrasses and
soft ground. Stick to hard sand where possible.
- Try to keep
everyone to a single file on sensitive parts of the shore, e.g.,
lots of seagrass, live coral rubble.
- When looking
under a rock, be gentle and put the rock gently back the way it
- Don't tease
or dig out animals
- Don't knock
or throw animals
- Use the guidebook
to show hidden features instead of trying to dig out the animal
or taking it out of water.
- Don't litter
do you know you are doing a good job?
Your visitors are smiling and having a good time
YOU are smiling and having a good time.
If you are miserable and stressed, they will be too.