Prefer to listen & watch? See the video version here.
Sam H Ham's 'Interpretation' is a thick, dense text-book with all sorts of fancy philosophies about tour guiding (full-disclosure- I unintentionally reread it yearly).
One of my favorite formulas that he offers is the TORE Model which says that, in order to be effectively communicated, a tour must;
In this article, I'll define what exactly a tour theme is and offer a fun exercise for guides to create their own.
What is the difference between a tour theme & a tour topic?
The topic is what the tour is about. It's the subject material. Maybe your tour is about the ancient Romans or the history of Ellis Island.
Your theme is much deeper. It's your point.
It's what you want your guests to discover with you and think about long after the tour has finished.
For example, the theme of that tour about the ancient Romans might be; "Much of modern-day Italian culture can be traced back to traditions created by the ancient Roman civilization."
The theme should tie together all of the material you choose to include on your tour.
What makes a good theme?
A strong theme should;
How to deliver your theme?
There are various methods for delivering a theme, but my favorite way is simple to announce it in the end (making it a part of your 'big finish'). It's a great way to sum everything up for your guests and to create an 'aha' moment for them.
Bonus- a Theme Building exercise for guides.
Having guides come up with themes for tours they already give is a great exercise. Have them do it during a team meeting where they can share the theme they've created with the entire group (inspiring some other guides to adjust their own themes).
Simply have guides answer this question (that was shared with me by Jason K of Tour Guys, who's also Sam H Ham obsessed...) about each tour they give;
"At the end of this tour, it is important that my guests understand _________."