Some time ago I was invited to speak at the fantastic SQLSaturday event in Copenhagen. On the day after the conference, all speakers were invited on a city tour, but not just a simple “city tour”, but one with a tour guide! I do not know how many of you have ever hired such a person, but if you have the chance – please do it. You will have dramatically better experience exploring the city! Now, what I wanted to stress on in this blog post is what each one of us can learn from a tour guide in terms of presentation skills because at the end of the day, what those people are actually doing is presenting and story telling. If they do it well, you will enjoy your walk with them. If not – you will probably be disappointed (sounds familiar?). Here are the things that impressed me quite a lot in our tour guide(and I am not that easy to be impressed, let’s be honest!) and what I believe each and every presenter has to be able to do:
Be nice and friendly – during the whole tour our tour guide (I believe his name was Tony, but unfortunately I am not 100% sure) was just “keeping it real”. He was like part of our group, a friend of ours! It was extremly easy to communicate with him and all of us enjoyed the time we spent together.
Know your audience – he has done his homework well in advance! He knew who we are, what we do and even from which countries we are coming from! Do you think that helped him communicate even better with us? “Yes” is the correct response.
Dress appropriately – because he knew who we are, he thoguht and dressed appropriately. Nothing special, no show off, but also definitely not in a way that will make us stay away and feel uncomfortable.
Come prepared – I was blown away how prepared our tour guide was! He perfectly knew what he was about to tell us, he has prepared the route, bought us all the tickets in advance and arranged everything you can think of. This means(at least in my opinion) that he cared! Moreover, not only he cared, but he respected us and our time!
Respect Time – speaking of time, having 3 hours means you have 3 hours. End of the story. Some of us were about to catch their plane, some had to go by car and need to leave at specific part of the day. You can imagine that this is important(same on a conference when the next session is right after yours). I think there’s no need to say that our tour guide had a perfect timing, right?
Make the others laugh – that’s a master level skill. Our tour guide, however, was a master. He was constantly making jokes and they were good ones. Even events that happened 100 years ago can be laughable if you know how to “present” them.
Be specific – during our tour around the city we learned a lot about Copenhagen and the history of the country. However, what made me(and is always making me) a really strong impression in a presenter is when he is able to deliver his/her material clearly and without any unneeded stuff. That’s also a master level skill because the people who know “a lot” are many times tempted to try and show off their incredible knowledge, which is a mistake! They try to say more than they are able to in the time they are given and so a lot of information is presented, but that information is not well explained… He could even give recommendations on Guide to Digital Nomad Rving and enumerate some of the advangades to us.
Make it simple and easy – simple is hard. Our tour guide was prepared so well though that even the most complex (let’s call them this way) stories were delivered in a extremely simplistic manner. That just showed once again that he was really on top of his game! Making things looks simple and easy is one the rare qualities of people nowadays. However, once you see it in someone, you can immediately understand that this person is indeed an expert in his area.
Be confident, but don’t be afraid to say “I am sorry. I don’t know” – there were just a few questions that were hard for our tour guide to answer. That does not mean that there were no such. Two things though – while he was talking or answering someone’s question he was looking confident in a way that he really knew what he was talking about. This adds to the experience because you immediately feel that this guy is not just talking “some stuff”, but actually what he was saying had sense and is the “right thing”. Of course, not every question has an answer – we are not perfect and we are not able to know everything. That was a perfect moment for him to say “I am sorry. I really don’t know “. We were OK with that (your audience will also be, but do not forget to follow up later on with them!)
Be enthusiastic – our tour guide was passionate about what he was telling or showing us! He was not bored and you will not be able to find even a single piece of boredom in his voice. He was exactly the opposite and that helped him keep us involved and engaged during all of those 3 hours!
Body Language – eye contact(but not only) is crucial if you want to deliver your message confidently. You don’t ask your boss for raise starting at the floor, right? Our tour guide was using this “technique” to it’s maximum limit! While he was telling us about specific building or historical event, he was watching all of us, explaining clearly and confidently what happened, when and why.
Use visuals when needed – our tour was not just walking around the city, talking about the history of this and that building. On some specific cases we were also showed printed pictures or maps that were not only nice, but helped us understand the history of the specific event/persona even better. They were there to support and enrich the story and they were there when they were only needed…
It’s amazing how many things you can learn to help you with your presentations in moments that you least expect, huh? If you want to read more on this topic, you can jump here which is the first of three blog posts I wrote some time ago on presentation skills. There you will be able to find a lot more advices, tips and tricks on how to become a better speaker. Enjoy learning… 🙂