Performances during 2008 where the way someone communicated, the tone, the structure, the body language, the confidence and the charisma, are what made us really listen.
OUTSTANDING GLOBAL PERFORMER: BARAK OBAMA.
Three candidates considered. Putin who exudes a sense of controlled power through the force of his body language, making us forget he is no longer President. The calculated release of photographs showing him shirtless cradling a Kalashnikov, whilst a tad obvious, enhanced the perception.
The Chinese government corporately, since the individuals are largely anonymous, did a superb job of both running, and then pitching the Olympics. Internally to the billion plus Chinese people and externally to the rest of us, thus accelerating recognition as a (the?) world super power.
In winning firstly the nomination and then the presidency, Obama gave us an object lessson in sustained brilliance. Has there ever been a comparable performance? ( See post dated November 3).
MOST IMPROVED PERFORMANCE: GORDON BROWN.
What a contrast. In the first half of the year Brown was appalling. Defensive, aggressive, unsmiling, like a chained bear flailing at Cameron’s clever thrusts. Today in a ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’ transformation, he looks better, sounds better, smiles more and radiates confidence. Now it’s Cameron who is not smiling.
MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER: ELEANOR SIMONDS
Beijing saw the emergence of many sporting superstars. Some of them natural communicators. The winner of this award, Paralympic gold medallist swimmer, 13 year old Eleanor captivated in the pool and in the interview. Enchanting.
BEST IN SUPPORTING ROLE: SARAH BROWN.
Sara Palin may be a surprise nominee but her impact on arrival was significant. Her energy, in-your-face, hockey mom, pitbull outspokeness helped a tiring McCain move ahead in the polls. But only briefly as media exposure, exposed her weaknesses. Carla Bruni, on the otherhand, frequently exposed in other ways, enhanced the profile of Sarkozy with style and elegance.
Sara Brown’s role in the second coming of Gordon was significant. Her surprise platform appearance at the party conference charmed viewers and kick started her husband’s revival.(See post on Sept 15 and 24)
PERFORMANCE BY A POLITICIAN: BORIS JOHNSON
At the start of the year Cameron was making the running but he is now losing out on three fronts. To Brown, in his newly found ’saving the world’ role, in the House to Vince Caborne whose assured common sense commands attention, and finally to Boris Johnson.
Boris pitched strongly to defeat Ken. As mayor, despite some ‘unlucky’ appointees, he has communicated with authority, reinforcing the unique ‘Boris’ brand. A future Prime Minister? (Post dated June 5)
BROADCAST PERFORMANCE: GABY LOGAN
In news and current affairs the two ‘giants’, Jeremy Paxman and John Humphreys, continue in good form but would benefit from competition. In a ‘blokey-crumpled face-next door neighbour-scouser’ way Adrian Chiles is a challenger and much loved by the BBC. So too, seemingly, is the mannered but effectively intrusive Robert Preston.
More associated with sports progammes, the winner here is Gaby Logan. She was the star performer of the very many commentators and news reporters, who outnumbered athletes, at the Games. Naturally charming and a great listener, she draws the best out of her interviewees.
ENTERTAINMENT PERFORMANCE: CHERYL COLE
With reality style shows, it is the ‘pitching’ pundits who make or break them, not the contestants. Big Daddy, as ever, is Simon Cowell who gets better and younger looking(?) each time. The formidable expert entrepreuners on Dragon’s Den run him close with their sharp and abrasive critiques. This award however goes to Cheryl Cole, oozing empathy Geordie style.
PERFORMANCE IN SPORT: RONNIE O’SULLIVAN
No one can replace Jose Morhino, the best at the after-match since Brian Clough. Wenger continues to winge, Fergie to chew gum brutally, Capello to fold arms austerely, Scolari to look permanently surprised and only Harry to amuse. In rugby, Martin Johnson’s towering presence on the pitch is diminished off it. In cricket, Kevin Peterson is playing and talking a good game but not winning much. During a lean year, the most engaging communicator was Ronnie O’Sullivan as adept with words as with the cue.
PERFORMANCE IN BUSINESS: NO AWARD!
Not surprisingly, most business and financial leaders have been somewhat muted. Now that they know, that we know, that they know no more than we do, they are keeping shtum. A small mercy.
Here’s to 2009. When the going gets tough, the tough get pitching….