talking points for nature guides
index to talking points for nature guides
For nature guides: how to be a good guide
updated Oct 08
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 attention

What do visitors want?
Most visitors would enjoy doing these during a walk. Are you meeting these needs?
  • Spend quality time with friends and family.
  • Discover and learn.
  • Experience with all their senses.
  • Sense of achievement (the day wasn't wasted).
  • Have fun.

Tailor the tour to suit THE VISITOR
Find 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 expect?
  • 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 your visitors

  • 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.
  • Identify 'leaders' within the group and get them on your side.
  • Get their contacts and follow up later!

Your visitors should UNDERSTAND what you are saying

  • Visitors 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, tell jokes!
  • 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.
    • Deal with common questions like "Can eat or not?"
    • Topics 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.
    • Adjust the pace, stories to match visitor interests and needs.
    • Connect with visitors BEFORE starting the walk

Don't do all the talking!
You are NOT the centre of attention. The centre of attention should be the VISITORS and then the shores.

  • Encourage 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..."
  • Encourage visitors to ask questions. No question is stupid.
  • Encourage visitors to share their personal stories.
    • Connect 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.

Don't just talk! Be interactive

  • 'Discover' 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.
  • Encourage 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.
  • Encourage 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 anything
  • Don't 'save' anything
  • Don't kick things
  • 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 was
  • 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

How 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.

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