Standards of Performance


To inform, entertain and care for visitors to Scotland, and enhance their Scottish Experience.

Professional Guiding Skills

Personal and Professional Attributes

  • Ambassador: promote Scotland, the agent and the STGA; dispel misconceptions about Scotland.
  • Adaptability : adjust commentary to the needs of the group and involve the group.
  • Confidence: believe in and demonstrate guiding skills and control nerves, by being properly prepared.
  • Creativity : develop a personal style and incorporate a variety of guiding techniques.
  • Credibility : gain trust and respect from colleagues and clients; use accurate information and verify sources.
  • Enthusiasm : show enthusiasm about Scotland in commentary and in all communication with clients, do not be boring.
  • Integrity : respect the confidentiality of clients and be aware of possible loyalty conflicts between different client groups e.g. agents and visitors; stick to itinerary.
  • Perceptiveness : be aware of comfort, knowledge level, interest and body language of the group.
  • Positive Attitude : respond to situations as opportunities not problems and encourage and accept feedback from clients and colleagues
  • Professionalism : be supportive of the aims and code of practice of the STGA and support and respect colleagues and clients. Avoid giving personal opinions about contentious issues e.g. politics, religion.
  • Punctuality : arrive at least 15 minutes before any meeting time with group and ensure that timekeeping is maintained for visits and the end of the tour.
  • Safety: ensure the safety of the group and yourself.
  • Sense of Humour : be able to laugh at yourself and situations and use humour appropriately in commentaries; be aware of the pitfalls inherent in joke telling and cultural differences in sense of humour.

Performance criteria

1. Dress appropriately for the occasion

    • city guiding – tailored trousers or skirt for ladies, with a jacket, tailored trousers or kilt for men with jacket and tie;
    • country or island guiding – as for city but jackets may be replaced by smart sweaters; weatherproof clothing and footwear, depending on season;
    • outdoor activities, appropriate protective clothing for weather and conditions;
    • be aware of personal hygiene and condition of clothing.

2. Establish a welcoming rapport with the group

    • smile and greet the group with the appropriate greeting;
    • introduce yourself and the driver;
    • make a welcoming statement which is relevant to the group and the situation e.g. “Welcome to Scotland, I hope you had a good journey”;
    • outline the tour and inform the group of arrangements for breaks and likely arrival times;
    • inform them about heating and ventilation arrangements on the coach;
    • check numbers in the group;
    • check names if appropriate;
    • check if anyone has any questions and if everyone understands.

3.1 Position group and self correctly – Walking and Site Tours

    • lead the group to the area about which you intend to talk;
    • do not guide while walking;
    • inform the group about where you are going;
    • stand with your back to the object you are talking about but not directly in front of it so that it can be clearly seen;
    • make use of natural windbreaks;
    • be aware of the position of the sun or need for shelter;
    • be aware of traffic noise
    • gather the group around you;
    • face the group;
    • stand tall, do not slouch or lean on walls or vehicles;
    • use open body language, do not fold arms, do not keep hands in pockets;
    • control hand and arm gestures;
    • ensure that you can be heard;
    • do not turn away from the group while talking;
    • be aware of the public and of public access; do not block rights of way;
    • be aware of the privacy of individuals and property;
    • be mindful of the protection of the site e.g. use paths, do not touch objects;
    • avoid moving the group unnecessarily;
    • avoid long periods of standing in cold or wet weather.

3.2 Use microphone correctly – Coach Tours

    • check that the microphone is switched on and working;
    • adjust volume for clarity and interference;
    • adjust position of microphone for clarity, volume and interference;
    • check that everyone can hear;
    • ensure that you are not speaking too loudly for the microphone and adjust the position of the microphone according to feedback from the group;
    • keep the microphone with you while talking and gesturing and do not allow contact to be lost;
    • avoid walking up the coach with the microphone


4.1 Establish eye contact

    • stand up and face the group while making the introduction and scan the group to ensure that you look at all the members of the group;
    • focus attention on the whole group;
    • do not leave anyone out;
    • be aware of cultural differences e.g. do not impose eye contact on Japanese visitors.

4 .2 Maintain eye contact – Walking and Site Tours

    • face the group; scan the group throughout the commentary to ensure that you do not leave anyone out;
    • do not turn away while gesturing at objects, buildings or areas.

5. Use voice correctly with a variety of pitch and tone

    • Ensure that you can be heard by the whole group;
    • be aware of your colleagues and the environment and modulate the volume accordingly when using the natural voice project your voice and use correct breathing techniques;
    • make use of natural features to project sound e.g. walls;
    • find areas where there is protection from noise, where appropriate;
    • vary your pitch and tone for emphasis and to maintain interest;
    • avoid lowering the tone of your voice at the end of sentences;
    • use a lively tone.

6. Use speech that is appropriate and in a varied manner, pace, style and vocabulary

      • use correct pronunciation;
      • use clear simple language; slow down from normal speech – the larger the group, the slower the speech; articulate clearly;
      • avoid or explain jargon or technical vocabulary;
      • make place names clear and if necessary spell them;
      • keep dates to a minimum;
      • avoid over used phrases e.g. “over there, on the right, at one o’clock;
      • be enthusiastic and use your sense of humour;
      • avoid negative or suggestive language;
      • avoid making judgements or stating personal opinions on controversial subjects.

7. Relate presentation to the immediate environment and needs of the group

    • be relevant – use the landscape and explain what they can see;
    • remember the Top Visual Priorities and the Must Tells;
    • use visual cues to assist with non- visual information e.g. a site may spark the story of a character;
    • do not miss sites or visits that are on the itinerary and clear any changes with the tour operator;
    • do not go into detail about sites they will not see;
    • do not launch into a long story if you know an important site is coming up;
    • be prepared to break off if you get a question or if something attracts attention e.g. a wedding, procession, plants, birds or animals;
    • ensure that the presentation is appropriate for the group e.g. make cultural connections for the nationality you are guiding;
    • make connections according to their interests e.g. doctors may be interested in medical history, children may have a project to complete, tourism professionals may be interested in hotels and attractions;
    • use a variety of subjects in your commentary according to the needs and interests of the group e.g. Environment, Culture, Archaeology, History, Art, Literature, Music, Scotland Today as well as contemporary situations;
    • use anecdotes and stories with human interest, remember that they want to be entertained as well as informed, use appropriate humour.

8. Present clear and accurate information

    • do not read notes, although you may have them with you;
    • be careful not to assume knowledge or to talk down to the visitor
    • research information and be accurate about dates, place and facts;
    • if telling a story or anecdote, say that it is a story or one version of a story;
    • make sure that your presentation is planned and logical and chronological, a story needs a beginning, a middle and an end.

9. Clearly give directions for visible objects by word and or gesture

    • do not talk about things once you have passed them, if you miss something, leave it out;
    • in the coach, give clear indication of important sites just before reaching them and give clear directions when they are within sight e.g. it is at 11 o’ clock or it is coming up NOW;
    • be careful about confusing rights and lefts;
    • avoid pointing out things that cannot be seen by all the group e.g. in front;
    • use colours, signs, materials or larger objects to make things clear e.g. the building with the red roof; when on foot clearly point to the building, object or area that you want them to see;
    • use meaningful hand gestures.

10. Encourage safety

    • sit down in a moving coach;
    • inform group about safety, use of seat belts, first aid kit and emergency procedures;
    • give driver adequate warning of directions and be mindful of road conditions and traffic restraints;
    • be aware of driver’s hours;
    • warn group of hazards e.g. while walking and on getting off the coach;
    • avoid using doors on offside of the coach unless in a safe area e.g. coach park
    • choose safe routes and use crossings when walking;
    • while walking control the group and keep them with you;
    • avoid walking backwards while talking.

11. React appropriately to current situations

    • be prepared to adjust commentary if road or other environment conditions make it necessary to change plans or if the group expectations or reaction indicate a reason to change;
    • be aware of the group, they may want to chat or sleep;
    • deal with emergencies and crises for both individuals and the group;
    • stay calm in difficult situations;
    • ensure that the driver and group are aware of return times and meeting places and give clear instructions;
    • remember to count the group before leaving.

12 .Encourage, repeat and answer questions

    • be approachable;
    • invite questions at appropriate points;
    • be available for individual questions;
    • when group members ask questions, repeat the question before answering it for the whole group;
    • show pleasure that they have asked a question – it indicates interest;
    • avoid getting involved in a private conversation with one or two visitors when giving a commentary , offer to talk to them later;
    • confirm that the visitor understands;
    • avoid making visitors feel embarrassed or stupid e.g. do not say “I’ve just told you that”;
    • if you do not know the answer, admit it and try to find out;
    • never argue.

13 .Give supplementary information or summary on request

    • be prepared to give more information when people ask for it;
    • be prepared to clarify and explain.

14. Link information to previous or future situations and experiences if appropriate

    • relate commentary to where the group has been or where they are going e.g. “this is the Scott Monument, you’ll see Abbotsford tomorrow…..”.


Regional Studies

Formative assessment according to the Standards of Performance on regional study tours on foot and in coach will be made in conjunction with evidence of written work and re-assessment may take the form of re-submission of written work, oral viva or practical re-assessment. Written assessments will be marked according to the University guidelines.

Professional Guiding Skills

Formative assessment according to the Standards of Performance will take place on foot and on coach and may involve language guiding if appropriate. In addition written assignments will be issued which will be marked according to the University guidelines.

Core Knowledge

Assignments will be marked by the University according to the University guidelines and reassessment will be available.

All the above elements will receive Credit Accumulation Transfer points (CAT).

STGA Final Examination

The STGA examination will be open to students who have successfully completed all the parts of the STGA Basic Plan and have received credits from an approved University. The pass mark for written work is 70%. Students will be able to re-sit all or part of the examination once. Resits will normally be available the following year.