Nicola Sturgeon fifth-most eloquent leader in world, says experts

Leadership experts praise Scotland's first minister – but criticise Boris Johnson for ‘waffling’ and ‘leaving people confused’

Adam Forrest
Thursday 30 July 2020 16:00
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Nicola Sturgeon slams UK government's 'shambolic' coronavirus handling

Scotland’s fist minister Nicola Sturgeon has been named as the fifth-most eloquent politician in the world by a group of leadership and career experts.

Ms Sturgeon won praise for being “clear, calm and compassionate” by the professional development specialists who drew up the list.

By contrast, the group criticised Boris Johnson, claiming he had typically favoured “muttering or waffling” when speaking to the public and “often left people confused about his message”.

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern – praised for her “empathetic leadership style” – topped the global rankings.

Three of the leaders named in the top five are women – with German chancellor Angela Merkel named as the second most eloquent leader, ahead of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in third and Canada’s Justin Trudeau in fourth.

Professional development coaches from the Development Academy wing of Acuity Training compiled the list after reviewing more than 100 hours of footage from press conferences, speeches and other public addresses throughout 2020.

Speaking about the SNP leader they said: “Nicola Sturgeon has received a lot of praise for her response to the coronavirus pandemic – and it’s not hard to see why. She is clear, calm and compassionate, is not afraid to be tough or emotional, and she has a great sense of humour.

The experts added: “There’s no sense of performance with Sturgeon – she is very real.”

Former US president Barack Obama was named as the most effective communicator of the last decade. His successor Donald Trump was criticised by the experts, who said: “His overuse of metaphors and analogies is confusing for many and he occasionally slurs on words.”

They described Boris Johnson as a “very unique public speaker”, saying: “Unlike many of his colleagues, the former foreign secretary and mayor of London has had a tendency to forgo pauses in favour of muttering or waffling, and his use of odd or obscure references often left people confused about his message.”

But they added: “In recent months, however, the prime minister has made some real improvements to his communication and presentation skills, for example, he doesn’t stumble over his words as often.”

Development Academy director Ben Richardson said: “There are some fantastic – and not so fantastic – examples of public speakers from this research and it’s fascinating that although there are only around 10% of women in leadership roles worldwide, female leaders make up 50% of the top communicators.”

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