RANKED: The 10 Best Communicators Of 2012

marissa mayer, yahoo, google,

Photo: Jemal Countess / Getty Images

One of the things that differentiates the leaders people gravitate to, connect with, and follow is their ability to communicate. That doesn’t just mean speeches. Informal events can take as much skill as a speech in front of thousands. San Francisco based Decker Communications puts together a yearly list of the world’s most and least effective communicators. Part of it is innate, but Kelly Decker, an Executive Vice President at the firm argues that these are skills that anyone can learn.

“We typically have a set of habits,” Decker said, “and communications, we find, are more based around one’s habits as opposed to an innate ‘I can either do it or I can’t’ kind of thing.”

Here’s their list of the most effective communicators, examples of their best speeches, and some of the habits you can emulate. 

10. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo

Marissa Mayer's ascension to the top job at Yahoo was one of the biggest stories of the year. She's handled it with grace and panache. She speaks from a position of authority as someone who came up as an engineer, but can connect with anybody.

Speaking of both Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg, Decker Executive Vice President Kelly Decker said 'they've got this massive credibility and experience behind them, and yet they've been able to twist it in a way that connects with other people, and that's what so many people in tech are not able to do, they're not able to make that transition and really connect with a variety of different audiences.'

Source: Decker Communications

9. Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder and Square CEO

Jack Dorsey has had something of a banner year; the company raised $200 million in series D financing and entered a high profile partnership with Starbucks. He was also number three on the list of Business Insider's Sexiest CEOs Alive.

Part of Twitter's success is attributable to its founder's communication ability. Decker cites his ability to simplify complexity, to use stories to connect to an audience, and a comfortable presence on stage as some of the things that set him apart.

Source: Decker Communications

8. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, hosts of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report

Stewart and Colbert once again showed the power of humour in communication. They take an often complex and very divisive topic and made it hilarious, simpler, and very compelling.

Particularly notable was their extended series of sketches on Super PACs and campaign finance, which genuinely educated their audience on an important issue, and made their opinion about recent changes in the law eminently clear.

Source: Decker Communications

7. Bill Clinton, former President of the United States

As the Decker report says, 'he treats prepared text 'the way jazz greats soar from the sheet music.''

At the Democratic National Convention, Clinton nearly doubled the amount of text in his prepared speech, rarely faltering or stumbling, explaining complex policy, while still somehow connecting with people in the way only he can. At the same time, he didn't take focus away from the President and his policies.

Source: Decker Communications

6. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO

As Facebook moved towards its IPO, Sheryl Sandberg was the steady hand, and one of the company's chief communicators. Decker highlights her ability to 'translate tech speak,' and speak with a great deal of confidence and credibility.

At the same time, Sandberg speaks on other issues, particularly those concerning women, with the same strength and ability, and without distracting from her other work.

Source: Decker Communications

5. Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark

Cory Booker, the omnipresent Mayor of Newark, N.J., goes above and beyond the press conferences to which most politicians limit themselves. For example, his use of Twitter during Hurricane Sandy.

He's run into some criticism lately, and we asked Kelly Decker how he could avoid that.

'It's about knowing your audience. For him, the things that are so likeable about him, the energy that he brings, the humour, the stories, he just has to be aware of the audiences to whom he's connecting with and do that in the right fashion in the right way. So in some cases he needs to tone them down, and in others he can ramp them back up to where he is so he doesn't get that backlash.'

Source: Decker Communications

4. Ryan Seacrest, American Idol host and media personality

Seacrest is considered one of the hardest working men in Hollywood, yet somehow manages to avoid becoming overexposed. He hosts everything from his radio show to American Idol to the Emmy's.

Decker cites his ability to bring energy and enthusiasm to everything, but to be self deprecating and open when he needs to be.

Source: Decker Communications

3. Missy Franklin, US swimming Olympian

Franklin was one of the stars of the Olympics, both as an athlete for her 4 gold medals and for her poise, She's one of the most confident 17 year olds around.

According to Decker, she's a great example of what they call 'humble confidence,' or, being assertive but still very relatable. She was also genuine in her emotions but still composed, even an incredibly overwhelming experience winning the 100M backstroke.

Source: Decker Communications

2. Marco Rubio, Florida's junior senator

There's a reason Marco Rubio was already being mentioned as a potential Presidential candidate despite his short tenure as a Senator. He's particularly adept at using his personal story of being the son of Cuban immigrants to make a consistent and strong point, while remaining authentic.

He's also able to show a more personal side. Decker cites his interview with Barbara Walters as a particularly good example.

Source: Decker Communications

1. Michelle Obama, America's First Lady

The number one communicator on this year's list stole the show at the Democratic National Convention. As Kelly Decker said, 'She's in front of thousands of people and hundreds of thousands via TV and she's working off the teleprompter, so it's a prepared talk, a very formal talk, and yet she still comes across with this humble confidence, with this likability and authenticity which people are really looking for.'

There was genuine emotion in her performance, she displayed vulnerability, and related to her audience on a fundamental level. She managed to be just as composed and effective in less formal situations, like on her appearance with David Letterman.

Source: Decker Communications

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