Walk and do look back

Past summer vacation I went trail hiking in the mountains. Already during the first walk, I found out that one of my travel companions was obsessed with topographic map reading. As such he was certainly of great help for planning the excursion and keeping the herd on track.


But, untrained as I was  (and maybe getting a bit older and slower too), this same person also turned out to be a major source of irritation. I can assure you that it is frustrating to be constantly trailing 100 meters behind a self-declared leader, who is only concentrating on his map and not paying attention to the folks that aren’t able to keep up with his pace – and as such getting (literally and figuratively) disconnected from the group.

Unfortunately, I have seen the same happen with professional speakers too. Though they carefully prepared their slides and rehearsed their presentation, they neglected to pay attention to the (non-verbal) feedback from the people in the room.

So, here’s a piece of advice to all business presenters: your audience is far more important than your slide deck. Pause, repeat and summarize often. And slow down your talk when people start dropping out.

And for my hiking buddy, there are also some leadership lessons to take away: don’t waste your energy scrutinously executing a plan, when your associates are not at the same speed (yet). Walk on, but don’t forget to look back from time to time!

Additional reading: