Presentation skills

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Presentation is the key to being heard and then understood. It is not always the content that grabs the listener or user, but the packaging. Have you ever gone into a supermarket to purchase a loaf of bread and on inspection, you choose a particualr loaf above another; why is that?

What is a presentation?

The terms under discussion is peculiar to "tour guiding". In tour guiding, a presentation would be introducing the place or the country in terms of its importance and history, politics, culture and fauna and flora to the participants of the tour.

This can be done as part of the coach ride or simply on site. Professor Albert Mehrabian did a lot of research into how we assimilate information during a presentation. He concluded that 55% of the information we take is visual, 38% is in the vocal and only 7% is text.

The importance of a presentation

A presentation enables the tour guide to show themselves as the leader and the one responsible for the group. A presentation helps to ascertain control over the group. A presentation enables the presenter to identify who is following and who is not. A presentation standardizes the information passed to all.

Identify the characteristics of a good presentation

A good presentation is often linked to the qualities of the presenter. Therefore to evaluate a presentation, we will focus on the qualities of the presenter:

  1. Presents him/herself first, at the start of the presentation.
  2. Is appropriately groomed.
  3. Is motivated.
  4. Speaks for all to hear and understand.
  5. Uses appropriate language.
  6. Uses their hands to show and guide.
  7. Is well synchronized with the layout of the material.
  8. Keeps eye contact with the audience.
  9. Rehearses his/her speech.
  10. Is well informed.
  11. Is able to answer questions and gives apologies for questions which cannot be answered immediately.
  12. Looks for answers which were not answered.
  13. Knows when to talk and when to stop.
  14. Is noise free, in terms of his/her appearance and the type of message he is delivering.

Identify what makes a poor presentation.

Again, a poor presentation is inextricably linked to the presenter. It is often the opposite to what makes a good presentation. A poor presentation is if the presenter:

  1. Does not present themselves at the start of the presentation
  2. Speaks in a low voice, so all cannot hear and understand
  3. Gives wrong information, because he/she is misinformed through poor research.
  4. Does not cater for all the listeners; regarding the material presented
  5. Uses poor language.
  6. Is not synchronized with the layout of the material.
  7. Is not appropriately groomed.
  8. Is not seen to be motivated in the verbal or non-verbal language
  9. Uses their hands overly to show and guide. The gestures are at the wrong time and ambiguous.
  10. Does not maintain contact with the audience.
  11. Does not prepare the speech beforehand.
  12. Is not able to answer questions and apologies for questions not answered.
  13. Manufactures answers to questions which were not answered.
  14. Does not know when to talk and when to stop.
  15. Comes in gaudy colours, to present a talk on a tour of a solemn site (example: Hindu Temples)

Grooming habits of a presenter

Hygiene is an important consideration for a presenter. See the definition on

It involves not only washing with clean water, brushing your teeth, having fresh breathe, wearing deodorant and clean clothing; but the way the clothing fits your body.

Remember the tour guide is a representative of the organization and an ambassador of the country. Hence the way the tour guide looks or is presented, speaks for the country.

Tour Commentaries

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Tour Commentaries are the narratives tour guides use to describe a site and provide information about various aspects of a country. These can include general information and local stories about attractions, events and personalities in the country

The procedure for preparing tour commentaries includes establishing the needs and interests of the tour group, confirming the itinerary, accessing sources of information about sites to be visited, research facts about the sites to be visited and prepare the text of the commentary based on these facts.

  • Delivery of tour commentary

Here are some steps in delivering a tour commentary.

  • Confirm the interests and expectations of the tourists at the outset of the tour.
  • Start by introducing yourself and clearly state the purpose of the tour.
  • En route to attractions as well as at the sites, present the commentary you have prepared beforehand.
  • Make your commentary interesting, relevant and in a logical sequence.
  • Focus on what you know; be specific and express the information in terms of what the tourists can see.
  • Be sensitive to the interests of the group and seek feedback throughout to ensure that you are holding their attention.
  • Respond to tourist enquiries as accurately and positively as you can and where you do not immediately have an answer, refer to field guides and other sources of information.
  • If you do not find the answer to a question the tourist needs, apologise and refer the enquiry to an alternative source of information.
  • Be accommodating and flexible towards members of the group, allowing for different points of view and ways of doing things.
  • Allow enough time at each stop, to permit each tourist to fully enjoy and gain information with private time at the stop.


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Paraphrasing is the act in which a statement or remark is explained in other words or another way — as to clarify the meaning, or when a direct quotation is unavailable -