Presentation Skills from a Tour Guide in Mexico

Chichen Itza in Waterlogue

I just returned from a vacation to Cancun, Mexico, where I enjoyed fun, food and . . . learning presentation skills from unlikely sources: timeshare sellers, tour promoters, street vendors, restaurant servers and a tour guide!

It was the tour guide at the Mayan ruins, Chichen Itza (the picture above, using an app called Waterlogue) that most impressed me.

Tour Guide at Chichen Itza

He impressed me with three techniques: creative use of a prop, demonstration, and audience participation.

Creative use of a prop

He used a closed umbrella, held high above his head, to guide us through the crowds at the start of the tour.  He then used the umbrella in the traditional way, open, to shade himself from the sun.  But, when we got to an open, sandy area, he used the tip of the umbrella to draw diagrams in the sand, giving visual explanation, along with using some laminated photos.


At certain points, across from the temple and in an ancient ball court, the tour guide demonstrated acoustic effects.  He clapped and the echo sounded like the call of the quetzal bird.  I had never heard anything like it!  Everyone on the tour was spellbound.

Audience participation

Taking the demonstration a step further, he instructed us to all clap together on the count of three, so that we could participate in the acoustic effect.  Later, at another location in the ruins, one with many columns, he drew an X in the sand with his umbrella’s tip and asked a woman to stand on the X and look 45 degrees in either direction and tell how many columns she saw.  Because the columns were so perfectly aligned, at the 45 degree angles, they lined up so that she only saw the front columns.  We all could imagine ourselves standing in her spot, and later, many of us did.

I also imagined that this tour guide was going to get some good tips!

In the tourist areas of Mexico, tour guides and others who make their living off of tips learn quickly what techniques are most effective to elicit the best tips.  They learn how to work their audience.

Maybe you won’t get tips as a speaker,but perhaps you will get recognition, product sales and referrals, so pay attention when you are in the audience and see what engages and enthralls you–learn where ever you are!

Have You Updated Your Head Shot?

4 headshots of Diane Windingland

Have you updated your professional head shot?

If your head shot is more than two to three years old, I urge you to gift yourself some new business pictures!  This is doubly true if you are the image of your business, such as is the case for professional speakers.

Above I have the 4 main head shots I have used since starting my speaking business.  What if I still had the 5 year-old headshot?  Even the 2 year old head shot?  They don’t portray what I look like now, or the image I want to have for my business, but they were the best I could do at the time.

Just for Fun–My Head Shot History:

2009:  This was a free head shot that was part of a Toastmaster’s directory.  It wasn’t a bad picture and it had the huge advantage of being free.  The red jacket and black mock turtle neck were the finest from Salvation Army.  Yes, I had a Salvation Army Signature Look.

2010:  Still rockin’ my Salvation Army Signature Look, but now with Really Bad Hair.  I went to the photo studio 6 blocks from where I lived and dropped about $40 on a cd of several pictures.  Really Bad Hair in every one.

2012:  I dress up the Salvation Army Signature Look with a Salvation Army necklace.  But, I did spring for some new glasses and a really good haircut.  Plus I learned how to use a flat iron.  I also spent significantly more on photos.  Maybe $350–and they turned out a bit too “warm.”  My skin has never quite been that color.

2014:  I finally donated my Salvation Army Signature Look back to the Salvation Army.  I had lost almost 50 lbs the year before and bought new clothes, after consulting with image consultant Dawn Stebbing. I also changed my hairstyle slightly.  I actually spent less on photos than on my previous photo shoot.  About $250.  Head shot by FeatherBlue Studios.

If you don’t like your current head shot, or if it doesn’t represent who you are now, get a new one!