Decker Communications Inc. Names Top Ten Best (and Worst) Communicators of the Year for 2008

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"The effectiveness of your communication determines the effectiveness of your life," says Bert Decker, best-selling author and national communications expert. His company's annual list of the Top Ten Best and Worst Communicators proves his point.

Decker Communications, Inc. (, a leading communications training and executive coaching firm, announces its annual list of Top Ten Communicators. This year's list highlights notable individuals from business, politics, sports and entertainment -- and shows how their communications helped make or break them in 2008.

The Ten Best
1. Barack Obama: As his star continues to rise, there's no contest for #1 Best Communicator.
And it's not just because he was elected President that he deserves #1, but that he was elected President BECAUSE of his communications ability. President Elect Obama is the first repeat at #1 (2006) and for the same reason. He vaulted from obscurity on the strength of his words and speeches at the 2004 Democratic Convention, and just kept talking. To date he hasn't really done much except communicate. Shows you how important that skill is. One of the greatest modern orators, we'll now see if he can replace Bill Clinton as "the great communicator" while in office.

2. Tim Russert: He was one of the best, and we'll miss him.
One of our best TV journalists died this year, and he would have made this list without the posthumous honor. Russert was personable, energetic and open but also tough, incisive and smart. Meet The Press, and Network TV News will never be the same. His son Luke Russert was eloquent in his eulogy, and maybe there will be moreā€¦

3. Randy Pausch: An unknown, until he gave one speech about his mortality.
"The Last Lecture" of 48-year old Professor Randy Pausch has deservedly received an amazing 8 million views on YouTube by 2008. This popular Professor took the stage at Carnegie Mellon late in 2007 to announce that this would be his last speech. He was dying of cancer. And this one singular moment remains a classic communication masterpiece - in addition to the emotion without maudlin, Pausch is funny, energetic and fully engaging. He did continue to speak in smaller settings until his death on July 25, 2008, and his communicating led to the best selling book "The Last Lecture."

4. Colin Powell: Always great, in 2008 he gave the interview of the year.
Colin Powell has always been a great communicator, and thereby a great leader. He is on the Top Ten this year for his masterful press conference when he endorsed Barack Obama. Clear, strong and in control in a Q&A with Tom Brokaw, Powell gave Obama perhaps the final boost he needed. It came from a highly respected communicator who himself could perhaps have been President had he chosen. He communicates like a President should.

5. Mike Huckabee: The one repeat from last year - he can't be held down.
Governor Huckabee deserves his repeat on the Top Ten Best list (he was #1 in 2007) because of what he continued to accomplish with his speaking style and quick wit. He did two new things of note in 2008: Became an upset winner and viable candidate for the Presidency before his 'value proposition' did him in. Then he went on to be a conservative spokesperson with a national TV Show on Fox, called "Huckabee". I hunch he will continue to thrive because he communicates well in any setting.

6. John Chambers: A remarkable businessman who's speaking ability drives his company.
It's good to have a businessman on the Best list in this economically woeful year. Cisco CEO John Chambers is a remarkable communicator who has led the evolution of Cisco Systems into the "human network." As a spokesperson for the industry, he is articulate, an advocate (and on issues beyond business), and a highly respected innovator - the revolutionary Telepresence released in 2008. When government leaders and Presidential candidates want to align with a powerful business person, they call on Chambers.

7. Sarah Palin: A remarkable woman in a remarkable rise to celebrity.
She electrified the public with her speaking ability and galvanized the Republican base. But even more impressive was her confidence under pressure - several times. She was mocked by the media after McCain picked her as her choice for VP, until her acceptance speech when she wowed the country. After some missteps she was again counted out by the media and most others, until her electrifying speech at the Republican Convention. As a pure speaker on a national stage - whether using the teleprompter or not - she is surprisingly the best of all the candidates, including Obama. It's the other communicating where she falls short. (See the Worst list.)

8. The New Communicators - Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds, Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki: There's a new breed of communicators, and they are leading a vanguard. There are those who speak well, and also use the new tools of communication in creating a new paradigm for connecting and influencing in a shrinking electronic world.

Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds: Both are best known for their design brilliance, but in 2008 they have exploded in impact with books and blogs.
Nancy has written 'Slide:ology' and Garr has written 'Presentation Zen' - and both books are amazing best sellers that have revolutionized the business presentation business. Although they deal with design, both books are different and more profound - they deal with communicating messages effectively. PowerPoint will never be the same, thank goodness.

Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki: Both are gurus in the tech/internet/social media space, because they are brilliant, speak brilliantly and funny, and then cast their influence further through books and blogs, tweets and tele, speaking and showering pithiness wherever they go.

If you haven't heard of any of these four, you must seek them out. They are the new communicators, coming at you in all media.

9. Tina Fey: How could she not be on the Top Ten Best list?
Tina Fey is not only a top comedienne, a brilliant writer and producer of the Emmy winning series "30 Rock" but a sought after celebrity. Newsday even called it "The Year of the Fey." And though she became a household name in 2008 because of her uncanny Sarah Palin parodies on Saturday Night Live, she was on the rise well before. She is always real, natural and honest, and she will be a communicating force in the future, and probably beyond television.

10. Anderson Cooper: He's one of a kind - leading a new breed of journalists.
Hard hitting yet compassionate. Personable yet objective. Anderson Cooper is incisive and engaged (images of Anderson Cooper being blown about in a hurricane come to mind). And above all he's savvy. Cooper not only speaks with no hesitation, he can control a loud group of CNN spin-doctors with a light touch. When he does a set piece, it is a conversation rather than a lecture. He's come far, and should go even farther.

To view the Top Ten Worst Communicators of 2008, please visit the Decker Blog.


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