Jennifer B. Davis
Bert Decker has published his annual list of the best and worst communicators of 2007. The best, mostly because they have gained fame or recognition, almost exclusively because they could communicate better than others in the field, were Governor and Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee, Dr. Mehmet Oz (of You, the User Manual), and good ol' Al Gore (who now can claim to have invented the internet and global warming, but I digress). His top picks for worst communicator was Alberto Gonzales (former Attorney General whose credits include "several controversies" and "allegations of perjury"), Michael Vick (professional athlete, animal lover, and role model - ha!), and Robert Eckert (Mattel chairman caught in toy recall).

I catch a common theme here. I suspect all of the top communicators keep their body language in check, dress the part, and have pleasing tone and pace to their speech. They have credibility in their fields and avoid (at least publicly) reputation disparaging controversies and crimes. But most of all, they have something to say. Something they are passionate about (which is hard to fake in today's media-saturated, cynical world). The ones on the bottom list showed a total lack of empathy for their audience (their customers, fans, voters/taxpayers, employees, etc).

So, as you and I think about our communications for the coming year, perhaps it is better to focus on the things that are worth saying. Develop true convictions about the content of our speech and true empathy for the audiences and individuals to whom we speak, and let the rest take care of itself.

Maybe one of you will top the list next year!

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