Your first location sets the tone for your walk, and because listeners can preview the first three locations, it’ll also help to sell it.
The first location is different in other ways too: the word count isn’t nearly as important, because listeners won’t start walking until you tell them to, and that gives you space to talk about who you are and why you’re telling this story. It’s also a space for some housekeeping, to ensure that first-time users have the best possible experience with VoiceMap and your walk.
To help you get started, we’ve given you some examples in an order we recommend. You’re welcome to make them your own.
Listeners like to know that they’re in the right place, and the first location is an opportunity to reassure them. Try to point out something obvious, because when you do, you have the listener exactly where you want them: in the right place, facing the right way, ready to look for details.
An example, from Eve Sandler
“You’re standing at one of the most historic points in Cape Town. If you have your back to Table Mountain, you’ll see the old slave lodge just to your right. Straight ahead, you’re looking down Adderley Street, the old road which linked the gardens to the Fort – or the Castle as we like to call it. Turn around towards the mountain now and you’ll see parliament on your left. If you peer through the trees you’ll see doughty old Queen Victoria on a plinth near the entrance, looking rather disapproving. Perhaps it’s the scandalous things she sees around her today!”
Who are you, and what is it that makes your perspective on this place valuable to the listener? Try to partially answer these questions right from the start, because they'll help listeners to identify with you and your perspective.
An example, from Rachel Erickson
"Have you ever stopped to think about a simple question and found the answer to be much more complex and wonderful than you ever could have imagined? And that that answer leads to yet more questions?
"This was precisely my situation when I moved to London. I was a drama student, a perpetual tourist, and a person who needed to do what we all must and use a toilet.
"I often found the toilet door barred by a 30p entry charge, and I would sometimes spend hours trying to avoid this. I started to learn the work-arounds and the secret free toilets in London. Why, after all, should I pay for something that’s a perfectly natural function?
"Then one day I started to wonder about the politics of paying to pee. Where does the money go? Why is it free in some places and not others? Should it be a human right?
"These questions started to open up new avenues and I found myself plunged into a whole new world. I became the Loo Lady and toilets became my life. Today I’m going to take you on a journey around my London and share my stories with you."
When you tell people to start walking, it helps to explain how location-aware commentary works. If you don’t, listeners get anxious. We’ve seen them skip to the next track too early, or repeat the last track, which can throw off your careful timing. A few sentences are normally enough.
An example, from Philip Todres
Peter: Hosting the FIFA Semi-Finals in Cape Town was the catalyst. The city secured enough funding to reconfigure the common. R578 million was spent on the urban park, and R4.2 billion was spent on the stadium as well as reconfiguring the precinct to accommodate it.
The park had one million visitors within a year of opening, and over weekends and public holidays it attracts between 7000 and 9000 people per day.
Philip: What draws so many visitors into the park? Let’s start walking now, and explore some of the design elements and destination points that give it its sense of identity. Up ahead, towards the stadium, you’ll see a walkway. Make your way over to that.
VoiceMap uses your location to play commentary automatically. You can put your phone in your pocket and focus on your surroundings. You’ll hear Peter’s voice again when you get to the path.