How to Use Clear Backtracking To Get Everyone On Board

14 Jan 2020

How to Use Clear Backtracking To Get Everyone On Board

There was a hit song in 1987 by a group called The Firm.

It was called “Star Trekkin'” 

It was a catchy little number parodying the early versions of Star Trek under Captain Kirk. They made a Claymation-type video to go with the song, which was just as crazy.

Backtracking with Star Trek

Each time the group sang the chorus, one more character’s lines was added, and it sped up. It made the song, somewhat manic, challenging to keep up with and very funny.

I’ve attended meetings with similar qualities — minus the humour!

Have you ever been at a meeting and found it difficult to keep up with the discussion? Attendees seem to be talking across one another or at cross purposes? Others go off on seemingly unrelated tangents, and you’re left wondering, “Where are we at with this discussion?”

Or perhaps you’ve attended a meeting, and later, when you read the minutes, questioned whether it really was the same meeting that you’d participated in. You wonder if you’d been beamed up at some point because the minutes bear no resemblance to the discussion you remember having? 

In these situations, it’s useful, if, from time-to-time, you make sure everyone in a discussion is still on the same page. 

Here’s a useful NLP technique you can use called backtracking 

It’s really so simple I wonder why backtracking is not used more often. It can be used in straightforward, or more complex situations to summarise the discussion up to that point. It’s kind of like parking the space ship after a mission and checking to make sure everyone is still on board.

Here’s an example:

“I want to do a little backtracking for a moment to make sure we’re all on the same page. So far, we’ve discussed blah, blah, blah, and we have four options. Those options are a) b) c) and d). However, it seems that some of you think there might be more options we could explore. Can I check that this is where we’re up to currently?”

At this point, those present have the opportunity to add information or disagree with your summary. Either way, you can then re-summarise and, where appropriate, have someone write it all down. 

You’ll at least know that, when you move on, everyone has the same understanding. And when the minutes arrive you won’t have that unsettling feeling that you must have been beamed in to a different meeting!

Backtracking is a great technique to use when you’re presenting

People naturally tend to drift off and backtracking can bring everyone back to the same place, to move forward together. It’s even better if you can put the information on a slide in a KeyNote or Powerpoint presentation.

Watch original Star Trekkin’ video made with plasticine figures.

Last time I checked it had had 8 million+ views. It’s worth reading some of the comments as well — they’re as funny as the video! I kept wondering why Captain Kirk has a log on his lap before realising — it’s ‘The Captains Log’! 

Anyway, if you want to learn a LOT more and experience a little bit of insanity at the same time, check out the next NLP Practitioner Certification Training.