As a Leader, Start Close-In to Finish On Top

communication confidence development leadership communication competence leadership communication confidence Dec 10, 2022
Leadership Communication Confidence requires leaders

I'm a big fan of the Irish Poet, David Whyte.

He has a poem called "Start Close In. You can listen to him recite at that link. Here's how it starts and is just a small part of the poem:

"Start close in,

don't take the second step or the third, 

start with the first thing

close in,

the step you don't want to take."


I was recently reminded of how important this is as a leader in a full-day workshop I delivered on 'public speaking' for about 30 young aspiring leaders for a local organization.

Participants were expecting the full-day program to focus on 'public speaking' from the perspective of presenting from in front of the room.

But what they learned was where in the perspective of leadership communication public presentations lay.

We spent the morning reviewing the Leadership Communication Pyramid through which they learned that to excel at public presentations as a leader they have to take David Whyte's advice and "start close in."

That means, starting at the bottom of the pyramid. The first level and context of leadership communication, "self-communication."

Most of the challenges with public presentations that the young leaders expressed centered around anxiety and even fear of public speaking, along with a lack of confidence in knowing what to say and how to say it.

You and they were smart enough to know that anxiety, fear, and confidence are emotions.

When I asked about where you have to start to overcome those emotions a young man in the front row, Nicholas, raised his hand and said with our "self-communication."

Self-communication is "close in."

To excel at any level and context of leadership communication in the pyramid requires that you "start close in."

Unfortunately, as David Whyte tells us in the poem, starting close in is often "the step you don't want to take."

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