Karen Dunn is a debate pro. The partner at Boies Schiller Flexner Law Firm has had clients ranging from President Obama to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. (Yes, even they need help too). If you find yourself worrying about how to win those crucial arguments, ahead Dunn shares her rules for taking the stage.
Rule #1: Be realistic.
“When you’re practicing, sitting at the table reading from notes is not going to be as effective as standing up behind a podium with another person behind a podium, feeling what that’s like and developing your instincts. Video yourself practicing. It can feel very painful, because you have to confront all the things that you’re not doing well, but this exercise helps enormously.“
Rule #2: Pick your opponent.
“Find a surrogate opponent who will do as much as possible during practice. They need to be able to make the exact arguments that the candidate is going to hear.”
Rule #3: Bring a pen.
“When you first take the stage, write down three points or things to do that you want to remember. And don’t be afraid to take notes: It’s a sign of respect for the process, and that you’re listening to the other person and getting ready to respond.”
Rule #4: Go for it.
“You can’t hold back. Because if you’re not punching, you’re getting punched. You’ve got to play to win.”
This article is part of our "Women Running for Office" series, which originally appeared in Marie Claire's November 2017 issue, on newsstands October 17. To view the full package, click here.
Kayla Webley Adler is the Deputy Editor of ELLE magazine. She edits cover stories, profiles, and narrative features on politics, culture, crime, and social trends. Previously, she worked as the Features Director at Marie Claire magazine and as a Staff Writer at TIME magazine.
The 14 Best Korean Skincare Brands to Swear By
Multi-step routines, coming right up.
By Alexis Gaskin •
Prince Harry Honored Princess Diana's Legacy With a Letter for World AIDS Day
He addressed it to those fighting against the disease.
By Iris Goldsztajn •
Sam Asghari Wishes His "Lioness" Britney Spears a Happy Birthday in Sweet Instagram
By Iris Goldsztajn •
Cory Booker and Rosario Dawson's Relationship Is No More
After three years of dating, the power couple have decided they're better off as friends.
By Marie Claire Editors •
Education for Women and Girls Is Crucial for Climate Justice
In an excerpt from her new book, 'A Bigger Picture,' Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate discusses the impact educated African women and girls can have on solving the climate crisis.
By Vanessa Nakate •
It’s Time to End Equal Pay Days and Pass the Equal Rights Amendment
The passage of the ERA is a chance for our country to prove it truly values women.
By Hala Ayala •
In Conversation: Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Emily Tisch Sussman
“It’s ridiculous that we’re the only advanced nation on the planet that doesn’t help families with childcare.”
By Emily Tisch Sussman •
EMILY's List President Laphonza Butler Has Big Plans for the Organization
Under Butler's leadership, the largest resource for women in politics aims to expand Black political power and become more accessible for candidates across the nation.
By Rachel Epstein •
Anita Hill Believes We Can End Gender Violence
Three decades after her landmark testimony in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, the esteemed professor and lawyer has a message for leaders: The time is now to prioritize anti-gender violence policies.
By Rachel Epstein •
For Teachers, Going to Work Can Mean Life or Death
Stefanie Minguell, a COVID survivor and second grade teacher in Florida's Broward County, almost died of COVID-19 and is immunocomprised. When she teaches in the classroom, she’s forced to choose between her health and her students.
By Megan DiTrolio •
Periods Don’t Stop for Pandemics—And Neither Have Our Nation’s Moms
Policies touted in the $3.5 trillion budget plan and other Congressional bills are missing a core component of maternal well-being: menstrual access and health.
By Christy Turlington Burns •