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Best Public Speakers: Studying Claire Babineaux-Fontenot's Communication

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

We included Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, on our “Best Public Speakers” list because of her incredible poise as she led the largest feeding program in the United States through the pandemic.

By Kat Evans and Madina Behori

We reviewed Babineaux-Fontenot's interview as part of the TIME100 Talks series where she discussed how demand for the charity's services increased as much as 200% at some of its partner food banks during the pandemic.

Claire Babineaux-Fontenot’s communication takeaways:

  1. Leaning on the Facts: Babineaux-Fontenot is deeply knowledgeable of the problems facing her organization. She is ready with statistics and real stories from the field. (1:18-2:00, 4:38-5:35)

  2. Vocal Variation: Babineaux-Fontenot often emphasizes key words with her voice. She varies her vocal speed, volume, and pitch which makes it easier for her audience to follow along-- especially when she shares a lot of numbers. (2:15-2:19, 7:55-7:58, 8:49-8:55)

  3. Eye Contact: Babineaux-Fontenot maintains eye contact with the camera throughout the interview. She is very expressive with her eyes--often lifting her eyebrows for more emphasis. (1:11-1:12, 3:06-3:12, 6:06-6:11)

Ways Claire Babineaux-Fontenot could improve:

  1. Gestures: Because of the placement of the camera, whenever Babineaux-Fontenot uses a gesture, it is too low for us to see. By positioning the camera further back and lifting her gestures further up in the frame, she can highlight even more so the key words and phrases in her message.

  2. Filler words: There are times when Babineaux-Fontenot uses "um" to transition between thoughts. In those moments, we can see her thinking which briefly takes us out of the message. Instead of verbalizing "um", we recommend she take a mindful pause before continuing with her thought.


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