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2008 Communication Successes

Welcome to my 3rd Annual Fast Company Expert Blog on Communication Successes.  As with the faux pas blog that went up last week, successes were dominated by politics. In fact, I couldn’t come up with any business successes and it seems to be getting harder and harder for business people to do the right thing when it comes to communication.

So, here are my picks for 2008:

  1. Barack Obama was, without a doubt, the most successful communicator of the year. Here was this man who basically went from being a nobody to being elected president in record time. Almost everything he did was golden, from his public speaking to his message to the discipline employed when he delivered it. People will study his campaign for years to come as an example of how to persuade.
  2. Hillary Clinton, after having lost the election and gained a lot of enemies in the process, redeemed herself in one 20-minute speech at the Democratic convention. After almost 2 years of lackluster presentations, Clinton showed audiences that she was capable of inspiration even if it was a day late and a dollar short.
  3. John McCain, though never the speaker, showed his authenticity – finally – during his concession speech, when he immediately tamped down the boos from supporters directed at Barack Obama and spent a significant portion of his speech extolling the historical significance of the moment.
  4. Sarah Palin will be back and with her return to the national scene, there will be a new voice, improved syntax and a much better grasp and knowledge of the issues. This woman is a masterful communicator with a compelling story.
  5. Mike Huckabee did not have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it to the top, but he won a lot of people over anyway. Huckabee showed that likeability and humor are key persuasive tools.
  6. Katie Couric, whom I have been critical of, turned the tide of the election with her super-insightful interview of Sarah Palin. Couric’s gentle but firm questioning of the governor of Alaska, caught her completely off guard and revealed as no one had before, her lack of knowledge of the issues. Though Couric is still not winning the evening news competition, she showed herself to be a much better and more aggressive reporter than the boys on those other networks. (And love the new do, Katie.)
  7. Colin Powell shamed those questioning Obama’s religion when he pointed out on one of the Sunday morning shows that the right answer was “well what if he is [a Muslim]?” Powell went on to talk about how in America, a person’s religion shouldn’t matter and told the story of the Muslim American soldier who had died in Iraq. A deeply affecting photo of the soldier’s mother hugging his gravestone at Arlington National Cemetery accompanied the story.
  8. Michelle Obama seems like a normal person who really does love her husband and kids. Her charming countenance and great taste in fashion make her an exciting prospect for the White House. It’ll be fun to watch her make it her own, to see what issues she champions and to watch the girls grow up.

There were fewer successes this year than faux pas. I’d like to see that reversed for 2009. Let me know what I missed.

Happy New Year!

Copyright 2008 Ruth Sherman.  All Rights Reserved.

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