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10 best vocal tips for city tour guidesemail: info@thevoicecoach.be

10 best vocal tips for city tour guides

Since it's holiday season and a lot of tour guides' voices are suffering from the extra shifts – I thought I give some tips on how to compete vocally against the noise of a city. Those tips are especially useful if you have to speak outside for long periods of time. If you are not a tour guide, but feel like a guide could use some tips – feel free to share :)
  1. Show presence in front of your group – make sure you stand up straight, take up enough space by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and relax your shoulders. Don't hunch or twist your back. Your voice can develop best if the connection between your abdomen and your head (so your spine basically)is one straight line.
  2. Keep your shoulders free – don't carry a backpack or anything else that compromises your posture. If you carry a backpack (unless it is airy light), it will slowly but surely tense your back-, shoulder- and neck-muscles, which also leads to straining your voice. So make sure your upper body is burden free and you are able to relax your shoulders and neck.
  3. Breathe from your abdomen – this breathing technique helps you to have more presence, relax your shoulders and have enough air to share all your wisdom with your group. Here's how it goes: Breathe through your nose into your belly – just below the navel (it's almost as if you fill up a balloon) and breathe out slowly through your mouth from there. Don't lift your shoulders to breathe in. In the beginning this feels a bit unnatural, but it will feel more comfortable with time. Do this before your tour and whenever you have a moment to just breathe deeply.
  4. Warm up your voice – don't let the “Welcome to our tour, folks!” be the first sentence you say that day. When you get up in the morning start by humming a little tune or doing an exercise called “the siren”: humm from your lowest note possible to our highest one and back again. But don't push your voice to go really low or really high. You don't need to set a record, it's just to warm up your voice gently. You can connect this vocal exercise to the breathing exercise, so you get the extra benefit of using your abdomen for this.
  5. “Stretch” your voice during breaks – when you are walking to the next location or sight, use this time to lower your larynx with this exercise: Instead of humming, use the sound you make when you pronounce “ng” (as in sing). It's like a nasal hum where your mouth is slightly open. Just go “nnnnnggggggg” on a note where it is comfortable. It is not a very loud sound, it's like humming. But don't push it, just comfortably produce that sound for a few seconds and then speak again.
  6. Make use of naturally good acoustics – when you speak outside, people only hear the direct sound of your voice. When you stand under roofs – or even better – arches and domes, people also hear the reflected sound that comes from the roof or ceiling. Look for ways to make acoustics work for you throughout your tour and make use of its magic.
  7. Adapt the volume of your voice to the size of the group – when you have a big group OF COURSE you have to speak up, so everybody can hear you. When you have a smaller group, make sure you adapt though and give your voice a little break. There are 2 reasons for this: Firstly, if you speak too loudly to a small group, people will take a step away from you (which incidentally forces you to turn up your volume again...) and secondly your voice is like a muscle: you can give it some rest, when it is not absolutely necessary to speak very loudly.
  8. Make sure you speak to all types of learners – I know this is not school, it's holiday! But let's be honest, people listen to you, because they want to learn something new. So in a way it is a form of learning, right? So there are 3 types of learners: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Auditory learners are really happy with you, because they are listening to you. Visual learners are really happy too, because they can look at all the amazing sights you are pointing out to them. Kinestetic learners will not be happy for most of your tour, unless or until you let them touch something... so, why not give them something to hold on to right in the beginning of your tour. It can be a postcard, a map of your tour or a button that they have to stick on their shirt. They will be really happy and ready to listen to you.
  9. Use your hands to emphasize important points – make sure not all the emphasizing is done by your voice only. You can use your hands to show or emphasize important points in your speech. This way there is more of a show (“yay!!!” from the visual learners) and people who may not speak your language very well, will understand you better.
  10. Engage your group by asking questions – this way you will know your group better and people will feel like they can also contribute something. It can be a real ice breaker to create a good mood in your group and you won't have to work so hard with your voice to impress them.
I hope these tips were useful. If you would like to get more tips like these or tried them out, please let me know. You can also subscribe to my newsletter, like my facebook page or read my other blog posts on tips about voice training and feeling confident as a public speaker. You can even join one of my workshops or sign up for individual coaching. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sonja Nannan




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