How to Lead an Awesome Tour

I've been a tour guide for 14 years., and if I may say so myself, I'm pretty damn good at it. It's somewhat odd becoming a group of strangers' best friend fur a few hours, but it's also rewarding. Here's a few tips on making your tour guests feel like they got the best experience.
  1. 1.
    Know your material.
    Big duh. But really, know your material. Know it inside and out. Occasionally re-research stuff.
  2. 2.
    Edit yourself
    Know how much to give. Keep the info succinct, interesting and specific. Don't blather.
  3. 3.
    Have backup material on hand
    Know more than the bare minimum. If there are gaps or people have questions, make sure you can fill in. If you've done points one and two, you'll have plenty to spare.
  4. 4.
    Know when not to talk
    When I lead culinary yours for groups, sometimes they like to chat over a tasting. Unless there's something important to be says, let the tour breathe naturally.
  5. 5.
    Keep the energy level up
    Listen to yourself. What's the tone of your voice? Sound enthusiastic.
  6. 6.
    Enunciate and project
    And don't talk too fast.
  7. 7.
    Smile!
  8. 8.
    Make eye contact
    Look everyone in the eye. Bounce from person to person. Don't lock gaze, just make sure everyone feels connected.
  9. 9.
    Watch their expressions
    Are their eyes glazing over? Change topics or move to the next point.
  10. 10.
    Don't point
    It's rude. Gesture with your open hand.
  11. 11.
    Pepper in humor
    You don't have to turn it into a standup routine, but occasionally dropping in something funny breaks up the continuity and keep them on their toes.
  12. 12.
    Spring pop quizzes
    You're throwing a lot of information at them. Asking them to apply and act on that information keeps them engaged and increases retention.
  13. 13.
    Learn something about the people in your group and find ways to make relevance
    One of my last culinary tour groups had two Texans. At a stop where we tasted chili I joked with them, asking not to faint because there were beans in it. Make the tour about them.