Sunday, July 7, 2013

Deborah Hersman of the NTSB -- model communicator

For an excellent (in the original meaning of the word) communicator in the English language, I recommend that you watch news coverage of the Boeing 777 crash in San Francisco including live or recorded press conference appearances by Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the United States National Transportation Safety Board. Her statements and answers to questions are a model of how to use language transparently and responsibly.



These are the features of an ideal communicator exemplified by Deborah Hersman:


  • Very clear enunciation, pronouncing all letters in a word.
  • Speech at a deliberate speed to give time for everyone to understand what she is saying.
  • Precise, correct grammar, even when speaking impromptu.
  • Short sentences with no convoluted qualifying clauses.
  • Repeating of all questions without distortion.
  • Giving all reasonable information.
  • Admitting readily that she does not yet have all information.
  • Directing questioners to seek information from other agencies when it is their responsibility.
  • Withholding private information.
  • Explaining clearly the reason for withholding specific information.
  • Explaining all technical terms in non-technical English.
  • Speaking without repetition.

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