By Andrea Vacchiano

On June 30, Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute was pleased to have Beverly Hallberg, President of District Media Group and a professional in communication, visit Herndon to give a day-long instructional workshop on the art of public speaking.

Beverly is a Visiting Fellow in Communications at the Heritage Foundation, as well as an advisor to several clients including members of Congress, policy advisors, and organization leaders.

Speaking to a group of CBLPI and Young America's Foundation interns, Beverly went into depth about the nuances of public speaking and how to make a good speech – as well as how to look good, and to utilize body language and carefully selected attire.

First, she presented a Powerpoint going over the basics – how to "fake it until you make it" when feeling anxious, how to write a coherent speech, and how to understand and engage the audience. Three basic tips that she highlighted were:

  1. Eliminate filler words – like "like" or "actually"
  2. Use a 7th grade vocabulary – using complex language and big words does more to distract the audience than convey intelligence
  3. Eliminate jargon – which hurts a speech, and is probably unfamiliar to audience members

Next, the girls were split up into groups of three. Beverly would speak with one group and ask them to rehearse their speeches while filming them with a professional camera. After, Beverly would show the footage and go over what could be improved upon – much like preparation for a media interview.

The last exercise was called "Murderboard" – girls were told to formulate a brief statement about a policy issue they were passionate about, ranging from free speech to Second Amendment rights to artificial housing prices. Then, they were attacked with questions about it from each other ranging from hostile to irrelevant, and they needed to "block and bridge" to answer it appropriately – which consisted of acknowledging the reporter's question while also being able to convey the important message.


Beverly discussing “block-and-bridge”

This training was immensely useful for the CBLPI interns, who will be giving speeches at YAF's High School Conference on July 8. The skill of being able to defend one's views against hostility, however, will always be applicable to daily life – especially to conservatives at liberal campuses.

Everyone who participated in the day-long workshop left with new personal and practical insights into the communications skills that are so valuable to today's campus debates and to future professional careers.


Attendees of the workshop

Andrea Vacchiano is a 2016 CBLPI summer intern.