If you enjoyed “How to lead the perfect guided walk – part 1“, you’ll be keen to read this next part where you can find out how to start your walk, what to say, and what not to say!
Part 2 – Starting the walk
Always turn up at the advertised meeting point despite the worst weather. Run the walk if there is one person or more who wants to go on it – even if that does not include you! Arrive at the meeting point at least 10 minutes beforehand, and start the walk between five and ten minutes after the advertised time. This allows any stragglers to join in. If anyone turns up and looks vaguely as if they might fancy a walk, be sure to say hello and ask if they are here for the walk. Otherwise they might be shy of approaching you, especially if there are only a few others there. What to say To start off with there are a number of things which should be said, even if many of the group have been out with you before some might not have.
- Introduce yourself, giving your name and job title if you have one. Introduce any other members of staff present if they want to be introduced.
- Welcome the visitors to the place/project, on behalf of your employer and/or the site owner if you are doing it for them. If the project is sponsored or supported by any organisation they will probably appreciate a mention too.
- Explain what the theme of the walk is, if there is one, and how long it will last. Be sure to keep to this time!
- Give a warning if there is likely to be any rough going, e.g. if it is muddy. This is especially relevant if you see someone with a pushchair which might struggle to overcome some of the route, or unsuitable shoes – if they are warned and still come then they are less likely to complain afterwards. Of course, you should always design your route to fit your likely audience. If your walks attract parents with buggies and you have to turn them away you have failed!
- Consider asking your group – as a group – if anyone has any special needs or disabilities which they think you might need to know about. It would usually be rude to ask an individual such a question but there is no harm in putting the onus upon the walkers to make you aware if they so choose.
- Before you set off, give a brief description of the route you will take and assure the visitors that they will end up back where they started (if that is your intention).
- If appropriate, point out that the walk is entirely free, and no payment will be expected. Mention your employer/sponsor again at this point for maximum advert factor! If you will be accepting donations, say so at the start, and say what the donations are for.
What not to say!
This is particularly relevant if you work for a charity, local authority or other public body. Be very careful throughout the event to say nothing which you would not be prepared to say in front of anyone, including your employers or the press.
- Make no political statements.
- Do not give personal information about other members of staff, or yourself ideally.
- Tailor your tone to your audience – usually it is a ‘family show’ and should be kept at that level.
- Do not make promises or wild speculation about future developments at the site, unless you state clearly that it is only speculation.
- Do not be anything other than polite about other people, such as surrounding landowners, or other official bodies – they may be amongst your audience too.
And now… Coming up in the third and final part… ideas for keeping your commentary flowing; how to finish the walk; and important health and safety advice.