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.
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.
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!