You hear your name called and your mouth becomes the Sahara Desert. A cruel clamminess crawls across every inch of your skin. You stand up and you can’t feel your feet. OMG you can’t feel your feet. Are you even walking right now? What if you trip? Well, you might not have to speak if you trip badly enough. Hmm.
OK, you didn’t trip, and here you are. Your hands are shaking. Everybody’s looking at you – waiting.
Fear of public speaking can be so crippling that it keeps you from pursuing your passions. Perhaps you’ve avoided a career in tour directing or tour guiding because it means doing the unthinkable – speaking in front of 50 members of a tour group on a regular basis.
We get it, but we’re not letting you off the hook. Many of our tour director students have struggled with extreme public speaking anxiety, and it’s been our pleasure to watch them overcome it time and time again. The secret? Providing a supportive learning experience in which students speak in front of a group and are rewarded for lifting each other up.
Here are five things to remember when speaking in front of a motorcoach tour group or group of your peers.
You are not alone: Research shows that 74% of people suffer from speech anxiety, or roughly three out of four people. It is the greatest fear that people have – greater than fear of spiders and death! Let’s say you are one of 30 students in your tour director certification course. Chances are more than 20 of them are experiencing anxiety very similar to yours. Take heart!
You are among friends: Many with public speaking anxiety worry about what others will think or say should they freeze up. In our experience, this fear usually is unwarranted. This is not a firing squad! We foster a nurturing environment where character building and positive reinforcement reign. We do not tolerate negative criticism or meanness of any kind.
You are prepared: You’ve done your homework, researched your topic thoroughly, and rehearsed in front of your mirror. You’ve got this. If you happen to stumble over a line or forget a fact, it’s not going to ruin the tour. There’s much more to leading a successful tour than memorizing a script. Allow your personality shine through.
You are in charge: When you’re holding that microphone, you and you alone are leading the group. Empowering, isn’t it? The floor is yours. Just remember that not all will go as planned. In the event of a snag – a missed stop, for example – simply take a step back, compose yourself, and switch up your approach. Try engaging one of your more talkative group members with a fun question or a joke.
You belong here: Your passion for travel, for meeting new people, and for experiencing new cultures is stronger than any negative voice in your head. Believe in yourself. All you have to do is follow your heart. The rest will fall into place. Now, let’s talk.
During ITMI's 15-day Tour Director Certification Program, we'll equip you with every tool you need to land a job with any of the world's top tour operators. The field workshop component teaches you how to speak in front of a tour group comfortably and confidently. It gets easier every time.