Experts from the UK-based Development Academy spent 12 months analysing the communication and presentation skills of world leaders from 100 hours of footage from press conferences, speeches and other public addresses.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel scored highly, being placed second on the list of ten behind New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Both are followed by Narenda Modi, Prime Minister of India and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. The full list is available here.
Merkel places second
The Development Academy praised Merkel for her direct, calm, and controlled manner, as well as her ability to project confidence and control, particularly during the coronavirus crisis.
Merkel expresses “confidence and experience at a time that this is in short supply, by keeping gestures to a minimum and her tone of voice even,” they wrote.
Merkel has not always been thought of so highly for her public speaking, however. In 2014, her speeches were profiled as ‘monotone’ by the New Yorker and she is widely known to be unemotional and direct.
In fact, her tendency to be measured and methodical and, above all, hesitate before reacting publicly has inspired the word ‘Merkeln’ – a verb that according to the German dictionary publisher Langenscheidt, means ‘ to do nothing, make no decisions, issue no statements’.
Her speeches during the coronavirus crisis have, however, generated widespread praise, with many citing Merkel’s past as a scientist for her clear explanations and grasp of the facts of the public health crisis.
Many have cited her once-mocked straightforwardness as crucial in a time of instability and upheaval.
The German Chancellor’s ability to handle the crisis has been reflected in the polls, with Merkel’s centre-right CDU/CSU bloc enjoying their highest ratings in years of around 32 to 35 percent in late March.
Meanwhile, a new poll on Sunday confirmed that Merkel remains the most popular politician in Germany.
Women lead the way in list despite low representation
Merkel joins other women scoring highly in the Development Academy’s list with five appearing in the top ten (or making up 50 percent), despite only 19 countries out of 193 (9.8 percent) having a female head of state or female government.
“There are some fantastic – and not so fantastic – examples of public speakers from this research,” said Ben Richardson, Director at Development Academy.
“It’s fascinating that although there are only around 10 percent of women in leadership roles worldwide, female leaders make up 50 percent of the top communicators.”