Leading from the Front of the Room


6 Reasons Why “Leading from the Front of the Room” is more important than ever

You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You are respected for your technical skills. People know you know how to do the job. Leading people who are doing the job is a completely different set of skills though than being able to do the job.

Leading people with technical skills requires being able to present not data but insights, not information but inspiration. There are 6 reasons why this is more difficult, and more important, than ever.

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1. The benchmark is getting higher:  People seeing your presentations have already seen some of the best presenters in the world – TED, SXSW, Youtube Channels, social media – and are measuring you by that standard. The technique of standing in front of the room or auditorium and reading from a prepared script or slides isn’t going to work anymore (and if you didn’t already know it, never really did). The technical skills you mastered to be great at delivering great results aren’t the same as the technical skills you need to master to be great at delivering great presentations.


2. The technology is getting smarter: You may be used to having everyone actually in front of you (or not – there are some things we never get used to). When leaders used to want to present to the whole organisation, office, department or team, they used to have to physically get everyone in the same place. Now all you have to do is schedule a web-conference, and everyone is in front of you from their desk. You have to get used to a mixed distribution channel – face-to-face, web, teleconference, videoconference, recorded for distribution – sometimes all at the same time.


3. The audience is getting even more distracted: If you thought it was tough getting and keeping people’s attention before, you’ve probably already seen how much more difficult it is when there are phones, tablets, laptops and other devices in the room. Smart watches are just the start of Wearable Technology – all designed to grab the audience’s attention away from your presentation.


4. The information is already accessible: Presentations used to be about providing new information to people – financial results, production and productivity, industry updates, regulation and compliance, goals and objectives. Now that’s all available in real-time - dashboards, RSS feeds, notifications and alerts. By the time you’re presenting your information, people have already read it and come to their own conclusions. So what’s left to tell them?


5. The actions you want to inspire are being resisted more: It used to be that if you had Chief at the start or Director or Manager at the end of your title, that would be enough to get people to act on what you were telling them. Now with the world’s knowledge at their fingertips (and a fair dollop of self-confidence), people expect you to earn their commitment and action. People now want, and will increasing want, to be inspired, influenced and informed to act autonomously. Traditional presentation methods are not designed to do this, and probably didn’t do it that well anyway.


6. The success of your organisation relies on it: If the purpose of your presentation is anything but to progress that part of the organisation further towards its goals, objectives, position and potential, you may want to rethink why you are giving it. Presentations are opportunities to communicate unrealised potential to an audience of stakeholders and to engage them in releasing it, often by overcoming obstacles together. To demonstrate your vision, and inspire people to follow you on the journey to realise it. If all you are doing in your presentation is distributing historical results and explaining what happened, maybe a report attached to an email may be more efficient, and more effective.


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David Wayne