How to write a MUN Opening Speech
Writing an opening speech in MUN can be a bit challenging.
Common questions we get from delegates before going to a conference. “What should I say in my opening speech?” “Should I read out my Positions Paper?” “How do I take all the research I did and fit it into a short opening speech?”
Before you start working on your MUN opening speech, you should know the topic, done some research, and preferably already have written a position paper .
A MUN opening speech should cover the following:
- Problem The specific problem you want to solve – 1 line.
- Clash Solution – What you want to do about the issue – 1 line.
- Information Back up your views on the issue and solutions with facts from research . – 2 lines
- Action Solution Details – The step by step how to solve the issue. – 3 + lines
What not to do:
Do not repeat the problem . Everyone knows what it is. Repeating the problem is a great way to waste precious speech time. Your first sentence should be what you want to do. That is what the other delegates are more interested in.
Your first sentence should be a clear clash. To impact the committee it is not enough to bring vague ideas. There needs to be engagement between delegates and your ideas need to be discussed by others.
You know your idea is important when countries that oppose your idea fight against it while countries who are on your side support it. Other delegates’ ideas clashing with yours is what gives them both life and makes them interesting and relevant.
For this reason, a good MUN opening speech needs to have:
Clash is your solution in one specific sentence. The Clash is framed as a two-sided solution which the other side can object to. Information is properly used facts. Call to Action is the policy you want to see implemented. The guide below will explain how the CIA formula works and how to use it to create your influential, informative, and rhetorically sound opening speech. Let’s get to it!
- Intro to CIA
- Opening Speech Structure
- Topic Types
- Opening Speech Examples
CIA is the foundation for any MUN opening speech. A strong CIA speech, will convey a clear and consistent message to your fellow delegates that you know what you are talking about and have a plan. Clear communication is the key to successful MUNing in your committee. Missing your C lash, I nformation or A ction can result in confusion about where you stand on the matter and your outlook on how to solve the issue at hand.
Just Remember CIA:
C la sh – What you want to do in one specific sentence. .
I nformation – Relevant facts. numbers, that support your speech. Information can also be facts about your country that justify your position.
Call to A ction – How you will carry out the one line “what” you states in the Clash.
Before we explain how each part of CIA works, it is vital to understand clashing with at least a few other delegates is an important litmus test for how relevant your talking points are.
Why 100% Agreement = Irrelevance
A Model United Nations opening speech should present a problem, as you perceive said problem, and give one or more practical policy proposals on how you propose to solve it. However, if everyone agrees with you, no one will talk about your ideas.
When no one talks about your ideas, they will fade from the discussion. This is why your framing of the problem needs to clash with the world view of other delegates. The debate between you and those who oppose your ideas will keep both ideas alive. Hours later, if you find a compromise with the other side, you will get credit for making the biggest difference. If you cannot find a compromise, you get credit for sticking to your principles. In both cases, if your clash is central to what takes place in the committee, you will get the credit for shaping the discussion and bringing the ideas that led the direction the committee took.
This is why it is not enough to say what is correct, or even important. It needs to arouse some kind of response to remain relevant and important. Ideally, the way you frame the debate will be so relevant and well presented that the committee clashes along the lines you set and the rich and relevant discussion takes up a central place in the committee, or at least is relevant to enough delegates to keep it going as a secondary discussion. For this reason, the first part of your MUN opening speech is called a Clash.
What you want to do.
Clash definition: A confrontation of solutions.
We cannot censor people who incite violence in a country with freedom of speech. Vs We must censor people to ensure physical safety from those who successfully incite violence.
You cannot censor and not censor at the same time and there you have a strong clash.
For something to be a clash, delegates from your committee need to be on either side of it. If there are no two sides, the committee won’t debate it. Instead, your ideas will either unanimously go straight to the unimportant clause section of the resolution or fall entirely out of discussion. Either way, it will not be central to determining the direction the committee goes.
Examples of Clash:
Revoking asylum status for anyone who does not agree to get vaccinated at the border.
Advocating for megacities to have their own independent legal system.
The United Nations should fund water filtration in countries that suffer volcanic eruptions.
In all of these examples, there is a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. The answer to these questions will be the main one to divide the committee room.
An idea that everyone agrees on is Off Clash . Off Clash statements (Like the Ebola virus is bad or tornados are dangerous) are a waste of precious speech time that could be further used to develop your Clash or Call to Action. (More on Clash and Off Clash in the expanded explanation below)
Which clash should you choose?
Some topics have many possible clashes. In those cases, you should choose the one you feel will be most relevant to the discussion.
Committee : World Health Organization
Topic: Combating the Zika Virus
Clash 1: Increase the number of doctors sent to Peru to treat Zika.
Clash 2: Remove patent restrictions to let countries locally develop medicines to counter Zika.
Clash 3: Suggest countries around the world teach children about the world’s top deadliest diseases.
The general concept of combating Zika is an Off Clash topic. No one will say the Zika virus is a good thing. To find the Clash you need to go one level deeper and decide what type of discussion will best serve our country’s interests.
It is clear that Clash 3 will save the least leaves and bring the least immediate benefit. It will also likely get little or no discussion time.
When choosing between Clash 1 and Clash 2, Paraguay would open for Clash 2, as creating generic medicines would be cheaper not only for fighting Zika but could also make medical treatment cheaper across the board. This idea would also be of interest to Angola, who faces similar constraints on creating generic medicines, even though they do not have the Zika virus. As a rule of thumb, it is better to choose a clash that is not only relevant to your country but many others can also agree with it.
Information = Hard facts that support your case
A strong MUN speech needs to have relevant facts and numbers that support parts of your speech.
Without information, your fellow delegates can only rely on your word, which might not give enough credibility to what you have to say. Numbers, names, dates and hard facts show what we are saying exists in the real world and is not an opinion. Numbers are the best form of information to use and the hardest to argue with.
The coral reefs are very important. Huge numbers of people who live near a reef. Corals also protect the shoreline of many countries. Also, many countries, like the US, and make a lot of money from tourism.
The coral reefs are very important. 962 million people (Roughly an eighth of the world’s population) lives within 60 miles of a reef. Additionally, corals protect 100,000 miles of shoreline in over 100 countries from being batters by the ocean’s force. The coral reefs also generating billions of dollars in tourism revenue. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service estimates the annual commercial value of U.S. fisheries from coral reefs to be over $100 million.
Which sounds smarter?
Information does not exist in a vacuum. There is no such thing as facts for facts sake.
Information in a CIA speech should always do one of the following:
- Supports why your Clash is the most relevant
- Shows why your Call to Action is the most important
- Shows why your country has the position it does
- Disproves information brought by another delegate
Information in follow up speeches usually moves between these four. In earlier speeches the “I” focuses more on your own world-building and less on countering other countries. However, MUN simulation has a lot going on and the Information should be used, as deemed appropriate, on a case by case basis.
Call to Action (CtA) is a statement designed to give instructions for an immediate response.
In MUN, your CtA is the practical policy to solve the issue you set up in your clash.
Without a clear CtA other delegates will not know what to do with the Clash and Information you presented. Worse, they can use what you set up in your speech to justify other CtA’s.
A Call to Action needs to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound (SMART).
Your CtA needs to be specific as to:
- Where you will get funding from
- Which organizations will be involved
- What you will send
Clash: Let’s send teachers to the refugee camps in Ethiopia.
CtA : Hiring 300 teachers who specialize in teaching English and Math, to United Nations run high schools at the 3 refugee camps in the Tigray region in Ethiopia.
We can’t send “teachers” as we don’t know what types how many, where to send them or what they are going to do. However, when we look at the CtA, we can guestimate the cost of 300 teachers who specialize in English and Math and now know where to send them.
A good Call to Action explains the problem, the solution and what it’s going to do.
Specific actionable policy ideas will allow you to direct the discussion, and later take credit for the ideas when everyone else has the same general stance (ex. “humanitarian aid”).
Structure of an opening speech
The opening speeches at most MUN conferences are 60 seconds.
However, you should ask your conference team if you are unsure about the opening speech times since this could differ. Take into considerations, a delegate could motion to change the opening speeckers time during the course of the conference or a chair could change the time due to other unforeseen reasons …. So even if the opening speech is as short as 30 seconds, or as long as two minutes, the structure remains the same.
- Information – Sprinkled throughout
Call to Action
Clash breaks into two parts, clashline and explanation.
How to start an MUN opening speech
A good MUN opening speech goes straight to the point. The longer you take the more of a risk you run that they’ll find someone else to focus on like passing a note, writing an opening speech of their own, chatting to the delegate next to them, etc. Your strong opener is your Clashline.
Clashline – Your first few lines. It tells the listener what clash you want to focus on. Shouldn’t be more than 10 seconds.
Examples of Clashlines:
Syrian refugees who spent over three years in refugee camps should get work visas Countries should be responsible for their own epidemics The UN should send food aid to the people of North Korea
Clash explanation – Your next few seconds should explain why what you are speaking about is important by showing why your clash is the correct one.
Examples of Explanation: Clashline: “The UN should send unconditional food aid to the people of North Korea.” Explanation: “The leadership is stable and not looking to change any time soon. Life will continue the same for the elites as the people are starving. This is why the food should be sent now.”
This is a good example of getting straight to the point. Within four sentences we have a clear idea that human rights come second to the leadership of the DPRK. This clarity of Clashline and Explanation can be used in any MUN committee from the General Assembly, ECOSOC, DISEC, SOCHUM and WHO to the Security Council and even a crisis committee.
Information Facts in your speech always have a purpose. That purpose is almost always one of the following: – Show why your Clash is the most relevant – Show why your Call to Action will make the biggest difference – Explain why your country has the position it does – Disprove information brought by another delegate
Use of information to strengthen a speech
Clash: The UN should send unconditional food aid to the people of North Korea. Kim Jong Un is 35 years old. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon. At the same time, 10.5 million people, which is 41% of the total population, are undernourished. Life will continue the same for the elites as the people are starving.
You should describe your policy / solution halfway through your speech at the latest. This is because you need time to elaborate on your solution. No idea is clear in one sentence. You will need time to explain why it is important and why it is going to work.
Use of Call to Action
The United Nations should send 240 million tons of food aid to the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. This food should be sent over two years. 30 million should be sent every three months as long as Kim Jong Un abides by the following.
- Regular scheduled UN inspections every six months.
- Surprise inspections are accommodated.
This text can be turned into clauses for a draft resolution. The main idea is clear.
Closing your Opening Speech
After your Call to Action, a summary sentence can be a nice way to close your speech.
However, this should not come at the expense of your content or important details of your Call to Action. Style should never trump substance.
What if you have extra time in my opening speech?
If you find yourself with extra time in your opening speech, and you used the CIA format in your speech.
Do the following:
- Elaborate on additional points you didn’t get enough time to introduce.
- Set up ideas that you can follow up in your next speech.
- Reinforce your main points.
- End your speech early if you really have nothing to add.
It should be rare to have extra time in your opening speech if you planned wisely, when you happen to find yourself with extra time use it strategically.
Types of MUN Topics
How it impacts your opening speech.
There are three types of MUN topics, Open, Semi-Open and Closed.
Types of MUN Topics:
Open Open topics are very broad and should be significantly narrowed to create the clash in an opening speech.
Example – Combatting the Slave Trade
This topic is very broad and could be about anything that has to do with slavery in the world today. What does slave trade mean? It could be child slavery, forced labor or the sex trade. It could be placed in the developed world or developing world. It could be about countries of origin, transit countries or destinations. To be debatable the opening speech needs to move from the topic to something specific to set the Clash.
Semi-Open Semi-Open topics are similar to open topics and should be narrowed and focused. They have more direction than open topics but you are still required to choose from a few directions to set the clash.
Example – The right to the internet of children in developing countries
There is an understanding of what types of countries and populations that we’re focusing on but there is still work needed to set a Clash. What ages are the children? Who is providing the internet, government, the UN or an NGO? What about the devices to use the internet?
Closed topics have a clear main clash. Most, or all, of the countries in the committee will fall onto one side or the other. For closed topics, countries without a clear point of view still need to pick a side before they can begin discussing the issue.
Example – Sending aid to the people of North Korea.
While you still need to decide what types of aid, how much and what conditions, the question of “should we send aid” is a yes or no question that each country should have an opinion on and which strongly influences their starting point in the discussion.
You can learn more about the three types of MUN topics here.
Below are MUN opening speech samples for an open and closed topic.
MUN Opening Speech Examples
The following MUN speech examples show both good and bad opening speeches. After the speech, there will be a breakdown according to CIA and an analysis of the speech evaluating what worked, what didn’t and why.
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MUN Opening Speech Example – Open Topic
Committee: World Food Program
Topic: Eradicating Global Hunger
Honorable chair distinguished delegates,
The first step to stopping starvation is improving access to clean water, critical for food growth. Half of the 800 million people without access to clean water live in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Kingdom of Norway believes that the WFP’s efforts should focus on community-oriented aid to promote self-sufficient living. Norway thinks self-operated water harvesting devices are a good way to do this. The University of Akron in Ohio developed a water harvester that produces 10 gallons of drinking water per hour from thin air. The UN should purchase, and distribute, water harvesters to the countries most in need such as Niger, Burundi and Mozambique. For the UN to ensure long term success, the WFP should transfer harvesters and not funds to the countries in need.
The first step to stopping starvation is improving access to clean water , critical for food growth. Half of the 800 million people without access to clean water live in Sub-Saharan Africa . The Kingdom of Norway believes that the WFP’s efforts should focus on community-oriented aid to promote self-sufficient living. Norway thinks self-operated water harvesting devices are a good way to do this. The University of Akron in Ohio developed a water harvester that produces 10 gallons of drinking water per hour from thin air . The UN should purchase, and distribute, water harvesters to the countries most in need such as Niger, Burundi and Mozambique . For the UN to ensure long term success, the WFP should transfer harvesters and not funds to the countries in need.
Clash – Improving access to clean water is how we tackle global hunger.
When asked in a question, “Does stopping starvation means providing access to clean water as the first priority?” Some countries will agree and some will not.
Information – 400 million people don’t have access to water in sub-Saharan Africa. (Numbers) Water harvester in the University of Akron produced 10 gallons of water per hour. (Numbers and names) Niger, Burundi and Mozambique are countries that could use this. (Names)
Call to Action – The UN should replace cash with water harvesters and give them directly to the people in need.
This Call to Action has two parts. In a follow-up speech, Norway can say that they give $975 million in aid to sub-Saharan countries. This can support why they want to make sure their investment is spent correctly. Also, even if the committee doesn’t go for water harvesters, or even water, the idea of not sending cash to the countries in need can still be central to the discussion.
Norway is hedging her bets and, while going in strong, leaves room to maneuver. The subtext of her case is countries should use whatever they are given responsibly and handing cash to governments is not an effective means. As long as whatever policy is chosen is done more responsibly (by what Norway considers responsible) she can still have a strong impact on the committee even if none of her policies go through.
MUN Opening Speech Example – Closed topic
Committee: International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Topic: Changing visa policy to combat illegal migration
Country: United Kingdom
Honorable chair distinguished delegates,
The United Kingdom is strongly against making visa access easier. While the death of the 39 Chinese found inside a refrigerated lorry from Bulgaria on October 23rd, 2019 is regrettable, our only option is informing potential migrants of the danger to themselves.
Illegal migration into Britain is around 650,000—give or take a couple hundred thousand. Many of these enter countries on tourist visas and then stay. Changing the laws will only give smugglers more opportunities.
Britain proposes the UN create translated online platforms to apply for legal visas, while also showing the dangers of illegal migration. The UN should invest in the proliferation, so this information reaches the right people. The smugglers who get past our x-ray machines, canine units, heartbeat monitors and carbon-dioxide sniffers are extremely resourceful. If we loosen visa laws, they will adapt and continue to take money from the poor but now with the white hats, we handed to them.
Honorable chair distinguished delegates, The United Kingdom is strongly against making visa access easier . While the death of the 39 Chinese found inside a refrigerated lorry from Bulgaria on October 23rd, 2019 is regrettable, our only option is informing potential migrants of the danger to themselves . Illegal migration into Britain is around 650,000 —give or take a couple hundred thousand. Many of these enter countries on tourist visas and then stay . Changing the laws will only give smugglers more opportunities.
Britain proposes the UN create translated online platforms to apply for legal visas, while also showing the dangers of illegal migration . The UN should invest in the proliferation , so this information reaches the right people. The smugglers who get past our x-ray machines, canine units, heartbeat monitors and carbon-dioxide sniffers are extremely resourceful. If we loosen visa laws, they will adapt and continue to taking money from the poor but now with the white hats, we handed to them.
Clash – Do not change the visa laws. Like at all.
Information – 39 victims inside a lorry from Bulgaria (numbers and names), Illegal migration into Britain + – 650,000 (number), x-ray machines, canine units, heartbeat monitors and carbon-dioxide sniffers (specific names of detection methods.)
Call to Action – UN online platform in local languages explaining the visa process and warning of dangers. UN should create a mechanism to make sure the platform reaches relevant people. (How to reach people needs elaboration in later speeches)
This speech starts with the UK clearly stating that they are against changing visa status, which shows which side of the main clash he is on. He brings information which he knows those who want to change visa status to save lives will bring up and says, despite that, he is against.
The UK brings many new stakeholders into the discussion such as the resourceful smugglers and how most illegal migrants come with tourist visas and stay.
As draft resolutions are practical policies, it isn’t enough to be against changing visas. The UK also needs to propose something proactive. The online resource is a good policy proposal in that it gives the IOM sometimes to advocate for which does not require a change in visa law. All countries that don’t want to change their immigration policy can get behind this idea that does not really change anything. It’s a position that many countries could back and might even get a majority. By putting the focus on resourceful smugglers, the UK is moving away from the danger to human life by saying the real enemy is the smugglers, who will be empowered by changing visa law.
Examples of Bad MUN Opening Speeches
Example bad opening speech - #1.
Committee : ECOSOC
Country : Egypt
TOPIC : Rebuilding the Middle East
We, the Arab Republic of Egypt believe that we should help rebuild the Middle East and specifically Syria .
While the 580,000 casualties of the civil war in Syria are extremely regrettable, the real victims are the people trying to stay alive in the conflict zone that is modern Syria. More than 6.2 million people are displaced . 13.1 million are still in need of humanitarian assistance . The estimated unemployment rate stands at 54 percent . Also, 83.5 percent of the 19,454,263 Syrians live below the poverty line . Cities have been engulfed in crime, police stations closed down and the overall police personal dropped from 100,000 officers to 20,000 . Rates of theft increased, with criminals looting houses and stores. To fix this problem we need to rebuild the Middle East by rebuilding Syria!
Clash – Rebuilding the Middle East = Rebuilding Syria
Information – A lot of facts about how difficult life is in Syria.
Call to Action – There is none.
This speech starts with the clash going half way. It focuses the rebuilding efforts on Syria. This excludes Iraq, and other candidate states, but is also a fairly predictable option which could be expected from a majority of delegates (at least if the committee takes place late 2019).
After the place setting in Syria, the speech brings many facts. This shows research but a clear lack of focus. The facts shows life in Syria is difficult, but the knowledge that life is difficult for Syrians is something everyone in the committee probably knows. The information is scattered between those who need aid, those who are unemployed and the information about dropping police forces. There is no Call to Action to make use of the data so the listener is left with the conclusion that life in Syria is hard, which they knew before the committee began.
Furthermore, the information in this speech can be used to support almost any Call to Action, from sending emergency humanitarian aid workers throughout the country to giving 100% support to Bashar Assad to reassert full control. This is the danger in giving a speech with a sort of Clash, Information and no Call to Action. Anyone can use your facts to support their own agenda.
Example Bad Opening Speech #2
Country : Ireland
The Republic of Ireland declares that we need to rebuild the Middle East ! Ireland believes that we should take action against the war and apply sanctions against the rebel terrorists in Syria and even resort to military action if necessary to stop the war. Syria is in such a poor condition because of the west’s irresponsible behavior regarding the war. The millions who died and fled are directly our fault. This is the same level of neglect seen after the Vietnam war in 1975 , when we left over 2 million as the casualty count and fled to lick our wounds and rebuild ourselves. Once the war is over, we should send financial aid to rebuild Syria again and prevent any future wars from happening.
Clash – Unclear. 1) Rebuild the Middle East (off clash), 2) Apply Sanctions against rebel terrorists in Syria, 3) Resort to military action.
Information – Vietnam war ended in 1975. Casualty count of over 2 million.
Call to Action – Send financial aid.
This speech is a mess of mixed messages. The Clashline is Off Clash, as there likely isn’t a country who would say they do not support the idea of rebuilding the Middle East (whatever that means). We then hear “we should apply sanctions against the terrorists in Syria” with no further explanation of how this will work or who they are. We then hear “resort to military action to stop the war” with no explanation about who we are taking action against. It could be the undefined terrorists mentioned before. It could be the Syrian army. It could be someone else.
The information in this speech is about the Vietnam war. The example is extremely dated, and the numbers undefined and possibly incorrect. However, the larger issue with the information is that it doesn’t serve a purpose. The west abandoning the Middle East is never even hinted at in the beginning of the clash. It also has nothing to do with the one liner Call to Action that comes later.
The Call to Action, if we can even call it that, has nothing to do with any previous part of the speech. If anything, sending aid is the opposite of sanctions and war, both of which have nothing to do with the American withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975.
Overall, this is a confusing speech where each part sends a different message from the other parts. This speech is very open to highjacking by another delegate who will say that this speech supports their ideas. Another option is this speech is ignored. What is clear is the direction the committee takes will likely not be set by this speech.
Example Bad Opening Speech - #3
Committee : ECOFIN
Country : Peru
Topic : Responsible Usage of Arctic Resources
Peru believes that every Arctic country has the sovereignty to use their resources .
However, because of the climate changes, we should create a special committee that will discuss this subject and find ways to decrease the ecological damage. The Arctic region contains major reserves of uranium, copper, tungsten, gold, diamonds and most importantly gas and oil . In addition, it’s one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in the world. Climate changes and release of contaminants in the Arctic have potential to affect European and global weather patterns. The Arctic is particularly sensitive to the effects of global warming, and icebergs are melting at a rapid rate. Scientists fear that it will cause a significant rise in sea levels around the world, and that in the 20th of the 21 century there will be no ice zone at all during the summer.
Clash – Countries can use resources within their territory.
Information – Names of resources in the arctic and some more scattered data.
Call to Action – Create a special committee.
This speech starts with a pretty clear Clash, that countries who have access to the arctic can use their resources as they please. The next line contradicts the first and presents either an alternative Clash or a Call to Action in the form of creating a “special committee” to find ways to decrease egonolical damage (first time this is mentioned). The rest of the speech is an array of information that doesn’t really point at anything. Some of it counts as Information in the form of new facts but most of what is said doesn’t really serve a purpose. At the end of the speech we are left wondering what was the point. From the third sentence the speech rambles on with no connection to the Clash or Call to Action which end up forgotten by the end of the speech..
Example Bad Opening Speech - #4
Country : Cuba
The Arctic states are completed and integrated by customary international sea law and several treaties. The Arctic includes areas of the national sovereignty. Cuba fully respects these sovereign rights and will be ready to play their role to confront global challenges with its scientific and technological expertise and leading companies to contribute to a sustainable Arctic development while respecting the ecosystem and indigenous people.
In this frame, Cuba expects the extending bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the Arctic, in the framework of international law to create a committee to cooperate in the following subjects : wider access of geo- strategic interest , scientific cooperation on climate change and environmental protection , economic expertise in the use of mineral resources , cooperation on human lives in extreme climate conditions .
Clash – None.
Information – None.
Call to Action – Create a committee to do basically everything.
This speech opening with what is clearly not a clashline. Cuba then says they “fully respect sovereign rights” and continue with a run on sentence (specifically how they will “ play their role to confront global challenges” using “scientific and technological expertise and leading companies” to “contribute to a sustainable Arctic development” while “respecting the ecosystem and indigenous people.”)
This delegate’s opening speech, unknowingly, tries to cover everything. The same can be seen in their call to action where the committee is created to do 5 separate things, which could each be an entire Call to Action in its own right.
This speech is hard to follow and tries to commit to so many different things. As a result, almost any other delegate can say that Cuba supports them. There are buzzwords like terms that have no clear link between them such as “sustainable Arctic development”, “ecosystem”, “indigenous people” and more. Overall, it is a difficult speech to follow where the listener is left without a clear idea of what the delegate wants, unless if what they want is absolutely everything.
Country : Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic says we have to take care of the arctic . It is important because there are many resources there which the world will be sad to lose. It also has endangered species.
We have not been careful with the arctic. Countries could also go to war over it. We need to be responsible. This means setting up mechanisms to protect the environment. We should also create treaties to protect nature and the natural resources there.
We owe it to our children and their children to take care of the arctic . We will have failed them if they ask us “why were you not responsible”. We need to be able to have an answer. As ECOFIN, we need to make sure the United Nations ensures that its member states use the arctic responsibly or do not use it at all. If we want an arctic when we are older we need to protect it today!
Clash – The clash in this speech is off clash.
Information – There are zero facts in this speech.
Call to Action – “take care of the arctic” which could mean anything.
This speech could have been written by someone who only read the name of the topic. Everything in it is general. No fact is present and no original idea is presented.
The only merit of this speech is that it can be read dramatically but even then there is nothing to remember except for lines like “we owe it to our children and their children to take care of the arctic.” At best, this speech shows eloquence and a knack for drama. What it does not do is set or drive debate in any way. Coming away from this you can assume no research was done and there is possibly a lack of understanding of how a MUN works.
Adapting Your Opening Speech in Real Time
At this point, you should be able to understand the different parts of a MUN opening speech and how they work together. Inspired by the examples and opening speech analysis, the patterns and characteristics of a good MUN opening speech should be clear. The final part of the opening speech process is the modifications you will sometimes need to do to adapt your speech to the previous speeches that came before yours.
MUN RULE: Always ready to adapt in real-time. This rule applies to your opening speech.
Just because it’s your first speech , doesn’t mean it’s the first speech in the committee room.
Ideas will come up from the very first opening speech in the committee. Once a delegate utters the words,“Honorable chair distinguished delegate” you should be ready to make a few modifications to your opening speech. Adapting to the room and the ideas is key to success in MUN.
Factor in the speaking order
Opening speeches are usually heard alphabetically. Other options are reverse alphabetical , in order of seating or completely at random .
Write your speech to build on top of others
Take note of the first letter of your country, write your speech with your place in the speaking order in mind. Countries with the letters A through C often give the first speeches, since not every committee has interviews countries with every letter in the alphabet. : )
(Remember although most conferences have opening speeches in alphabetical order, this is not a guarantee)
The countries who start their opening speech have first crack at defining the terms, setting the Clash and introducing the first Calls to Action.
More delegates on your Clash = Better
If you are not the first delegate making an opening speech, it is very possible you will join an existing Clash. Joining other delegates with the same idea is not a bad thing. The more delegates who subscribe to your world view the better chance you have to get a majority.
Hearing your Clash by another delegate in previous speeches is a very good thing. This lays the foundation to start building your coalition already during the opening speech stage through a tactic called echoing .
If you are not the first delegate making an opening speech, think what is likely to have been said and add to it. It is very possible you will join an existing Clash. This is not a bad thing. The more delegates there are who subscribe to your world view the better chance you have to get a majority.
As long as it isn’t Off Clash, hearing your Clash in some of the previous speeches is a very good thing. This means you can start building your coalition already during the opening speech stage through a tactic called echoing.
Echoing is mentioning another country by name in your speech. You can echo that you agree with them or disagree. You can directly quote or paraphrase. Echoing is not limited to opening speeches but it is a very potent strategy to use when you aren’t the first speaker.
How to Echo:
Echoing in an opening speech is usually best done right before your clash. You can also echo a country in the middle of your speech but it has a larger chance of getting missed.
Echoing in an opening speech can look something like this:
“Portugal agrees with Denmake, France and Haiti and disagreed with Russia and Pakistan.”
When you mention another country by name their ears perk up and they listen. You want allies and the opposing bloc to listen. You definitely want the countries you mention by name to listen.
Echoing in an opening speech needs to have a purpose. The purpose is usually to start putting your coalition together. Mentioning someone else in your speech grants you street credit with them. On a secondary level echoing helps set the Clash. Other countries will see that a number of delegates see your Clash as the issue to discuss and can choose to come on board, or at least acknowledge the Clash as something to be addressed.
If you are not one of the first speakers echoing it is also a way to show other delegates that you’re listening. If you mention countries who spoke at the beginning when you’re one of the later delages to speak, it sounds like your stopped listening at the beginning. It’s better to echo a country from the beginning, middle and a few speakers before you. This way the delegates in the room know your are attentive.
Echoing other delegates as a way to communicate with them from within your opening speech. Those extra words can help you start building coalitions, and agreeing on what reality the committee is taking place in, before the opening speeches end.
Finally, remember that echoing is part of your word count . If you’re going to echo, factor that into your speech time. A strategy some delegates use is writing their opening speech with 10 words less than fits a minute to leave room for echoing.
Saying CtA Best > Saying CtA First
Some MUN topics have a limited number of policies that can be implemented. If you’re a further down the opening speech list it is very likely someone said your policy, or something like it. This too is a good thing. When the topic has only three or four viable policies, it should be expected that some ideas will repeat themselves.
If you’re dealing with an earthquake there are only so many ways to rescue people from under the rubble.
If you’re dealing with a virus, there are only so many ways to vaccinate and research an antidote.
This is why would should not worry about saying the Call to Action first. On some topics, if you’re the only one to say it, you likely have a much larger problem
This is where going into detail and SMART policy come into play. You can echo the other countries who mentioned your policy idea in one line and develop it. If they gave one line at the end of their speech but you take 25 seconds to explain, the credit will go to you.
Remember that your opening speech is not the end, it’s a beginning. The delegate who best develops the idea, and pushes it the furthest over time, is the one who gets the credit. Also, you don’t need to do it alone. Having one or two strong allies will make a big difference when it comes to getting your Call to Action a central place of the draft resolution. MUN is a team activity and there is no promise of an easy ride to a majority. That is also part of the fun and the magic that is MUN. Be open to working with others and see the other delegates who try to set your Clash or introduce your Call to Action as an opportunity. CIA alone is more work for you. Others joining and supporting your CIA is the essence of cooperation and leveling up in Model United Nations.
There you have it. The secret to writing a great MUN opening speech. Remember, a speech alone is not though. You need to combine it with proper country representation , good coalition work, and resolution writing . However, if you give a bad opening speech you will need to work extra hard to catch up afterward. This can potentially be especially hard in an expert room.
You will also have to give other speeches after the first one. There are all types of follow up speeches that are needed to keep your CIA going. Once the ideas are out, their repetition is key to keeping your ideas on the table and yourself relevant. However, now that you gave a great opening speech, you have a much better chance to influence the direction the committee takes.
You should also use the tools of CIA speech writing to critically listen to others. Listen to hear what they are missing, whether it’s a Clash, a Call to Action or data to back it up. Write notes on their speeches and factor that into your general strategy.
The tools you gained here are relevant for high school MUN, college or university MUN as well as for other platforms that involve public speech. More importantly, these tools can also be used outside of MUN. After all, being relevant, interesting and driving conversation are even more important outside of a Model UN committee simulation. Make these tools second nature and they should serve you well for a long time.
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Lessons from the MUN Institute: How to Write an Opening Speech
Public speaking is a highly valuable skill you have the opportunity to develop through Model United Nations. Knowing how to prepare and deliver well-organized and thoughtful speeches will help you in school, your future career, and the rest of your life.
At an MUN conference, you will have many opportunities to give speeches. As the representative of your assigned country, you will be expected to speak about your country’s policy on the committee topics and your proposed solutions.
There are two main opportunities to make speeches in Model UN:
- Speakers List: When the committee begins, the chair will create a list of delegates who wish to give speeches. These speeches are typically about the how each country feels about the topic, and range from 1-2 minutes long. The first time you speak on the speakers list is referred to as your opening speech . You should prepare this speech before the conference. After your first speech, you can sent a note to the chair to request to be put on the Speakers List again.
- Moderated Caucus: Whereas the speakers list is about the topic in general, a moderated caucus is about a specific part of the topic. A moderated caucus has no Speakers List; delegates must raise their placards and wait for the chair to call on them to speak. Each delegate typically gets 30 seconds to 1 minute to speak, and have to focus on the topic of the caucus.
Public Speaking Structure
One of the easiest way to organize your speeches in Model UN, especially for opening speeches, is to use the following three-part formula:
- Hook: An engaging way to grab your audience’s attention;
- Point: Your country policy on the topic; and,
- Call to Action: Possible solutions to the topic.
The beginning of a speech should grab your audience’s attention. It should give your audience a reason to listen to you – otherwise they won’t. An attention-grabbing introduction is often called a “hook.” There are many different types of hooks, but here are a few common ones that work well in Model UN.
Question: Asking the audience a question is often an easy way to get their attention.
Example: “Do you think it is possible for us to live in a world without poverty? The people of my country think so. We believe we can achieve the end of poverty.”
Quote: A quote engages the audience when they recognize the figure you’re quoting.
Example: “Fifty years ago, United States President John F. Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ Today, ask not what the world can do for you, but what you can do for the world.”
Statistic: A statistic can grab an audience’s attention if it is surprising or interesting.
Example: “Over 1 billion people around the world live on less than US$1.25 a day. Over 1 billion people live in extreme poverty.”
Story: A story is the oldest form of communication and if told well, can certainly grab an audience’s attention. But speeches in MUN are typically very short, so keep the story brief!
Example: “Several years ago, in rural Pakistan, a girl was walking to school when a gunshot rang out – and she was shot in the head. The Taliban any girls to go to school. But that girl survived, and today she fights for girls’ right to education around the world. That girl’s name was Malala.”
The point is the purpose of your speech. It is the reason why you’re speaking. Once you have your audience’s attention, you should deliver your point. MUN speeches are often short, so stick to one point. Make it significant but simple to understand. It is better to say one thing well than many things poorly.
In opening speeches in MUN, the “point” is to state your country policy on the topic. Then offer 2-3 reasons explaining why your country had adopted this policy.
Example: “The Republic of Korea believes that education is a human right, and that all people should have access to education. Education is a pathway out of poverty for millions in developing countries, like Korea was just a few decades ago. Education is the driver of change and development in this world, and education is critical for the human race to continue to thrive and grow.
3. Call to Action
Good speeches end with a “call to action,” which is when you tell your audience to go and do something. Your call to action is your specific solution to the problem.
Example: “To provide universal access to education, Korea proposes the creation of an international fund called ‘Education For All’ that will support 3 programs in developing countries: building more schools, training new teachers, and preventing girls from dropping out of school. We call upon the international community to create and donate to this fund, so we can guarantee education as a right globally.”
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Lesson 4 - Writing your Opening speech
Fellow MUNprep students,
Every single day, hundreds of delegates walk in to their first committee session and have no idea what to say. They’re scared, speechless and feel out of place – they start to doubt themselves and fear they might not carry out the policy objectives that they have spent weeks refining. the reason? It’s because they didn’t take the time to prepare an opening speech!
These delegates can have a slow start to their conference that they can often fail to recover from, your conference weekend is short and first impressions are important. It can be a lifesaver to spend a few extra minutes putting together a strong opening speech that summarizes their key objectives.
Today, we’ll help save you from the shame of not knowing what to say and will help you to write the best opening speech for your next conference.
The Opening Speech
For any Model UN conference, delegates have a number of key speaking opportunities, but few are as important as the opening speech. When the committee begins, there will be a motion to open the speakers list and delegates who want to make an opening speech can raise their placards and get added to the list.
At its core, this speech gives you the chance to highlight your core policy objectives in a 30-90 second address. It’s the only speech that you can really prepare for in advance and is a great opportunity to show off some of your research and ideas. Other delegates are trying to see if they might want to work with you and the committee chair will start figuring out who to look out for.
Opening Speech essentials
So there are a few key ideas that you should keep in mind before you start writing your next opening speech:
● Don’t confuse an opening speech with your position paper. You don’t have as much time to flesh out all your ideas so make sure to stick to the highlights. Besides, everyone in your committee should know the context of your topics by now – stick to 1 or 2 key statistics and start marketing your solutions
● In most cases, you will have under 2 minutes to speak, this normally comes to just under 300 words. If you can only make a 30 second speech, that might only be 75 words!
● If your committee has multiple topics, you might have to prepare multiple opening speeches – 1 to argue for the topic you would like discussed first, and then an opening speech for each individual topic depending on which was chosen.
● It is the one speech that you are allowed to prepare in advance. Otherwise, most committees like to see all of your work completed while in the conference room.
Establishing your brand
The opening speech represents the perfect opportunity to set up your brand for the rest of the committee - think about how you want the other delegates to remember you. Try your best to tell a story that makes sense and that you can carry out through the rest of the weekend. Some useful places to start thinking are:
Is there a particular idea that you want to be known for?
Do you believe that a certain aspect of the topic requires more focus?
Is your state especially important on some certain aspect of the topic?
Remember that there are a lot of delegates speaking at the start of the committee and a number of ideas will be thrown around - some delegates will be taking notes and will be able to write only one or two things down about you, make their job as easy as you can so its easier for them to want to work with you.
The speech writing recipe
Like any good story, your opening speech needs a beginning, middle and end. You should draw your listener in at the start, hit them with the key points and give them something to remember at the very end.
At every step in your speech, you’re going to need to do a few things – this list can help you to put something together that will work every time.
Quick Opening – Acknowledge your committee members and Dais
An opening line – start with something strong – questions or a firm statement can work best.
If you use a question make it something that gets them to think – make sure you have the answer for that question too.
Pick one of the most interesting statistics you can find, make sure someone else wont use it too. Don’t get too caught up with background – everyone knows it already
Don’t start with something from the background guide – it needs to be fresh
Bring in your key solutions, outline where you stand and why its best
Highlight your countries position and why its so important.
Bring up your delegation name a few times, this can be important to establishing your brand.
Use a quick call to action, what they should do – would you like them to send you a note, would you like to talk during an unmod. Use this time to activate your audience
Make a quick thank you and let the next delegate speak.
Using writing tools to make it memorable - Coming soon!
What to remember with your Speech
Here are a few things that you should keep in mind for your next Model UN opening speech:
Embrace the nerves – the idea of speaking in front of a room of people is scary to anybody, but that’s okay. It can help you to prepare more thoroughly and get ready to make an even higher quality opening speech.
Organize your material – consider how your audience is going to receive it, make sure that they can pick up the information that you’re giving them and helping them to build a picture while you make it. Spitting out a bunch of statistics when they don’t have any context is never going to help anybody.
Leverage your personality – Embrace your personality and what makes you who you are, you want delegates to trust you and authenticity is the best way to do that. It will help them to feel more comfortable approaching you
How are you going to finish your speech – let’s face it, even if you had a 10-minute choreographed dance routine, some of the members of your committee are going to drift off. Finish strong, give a final punchy point, a quick call to action and let something stick in their head.
Eye contact is key – let people know that you’re speaking to them, with a prepared speech it can be easy to drift back off, but you have to make sure that you keep your readers engaged for as long as you can.
Think about your gestures – since you have a chance to prepare your speech, you also have an opportunity to talk to yourself in front of a mirror and see what it all looks like, Personally, my hands wave all over the place when I’m making a speech, I point at things and I draw random shapes in the air.
Think about your audience – remember who they are, what type of language you should use, what do they know/need to know, what is their attitude towards you as a speaker.
Include your Delegation Name – Mention the country/person you’re representing a few times so committee members know who to look for.
Practice makes perfect!
Once you’ve written up your opening speech, try it out a few times, give yourself an idea for the timing and make sure that you emphasize whats important.
Practise with team members so you can start to get comfortable speaking with an audience.
The Ladder Method to Opening Speech writing
The speaking time allotted to an Opening speech is normally determined on the day in your committee session. This means that you never know exactly how long your Opening speech will need to be. So you have to be prepared for every situation. Generally, the best way to get around this is by using the Ladder method - write out your entire speech that has all of the ideas that you want to include, make sure that it’s as long as the maximum time that you might be asked to speak for your committee, this is generally 2 minutes. After you have your full speech. Highlight certain sentences in different colours that represent different speaking time lengths (Generally the most commonly used speaking times will be 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute). This way you can have a speech that is punchy in every situation and you can always fill up the speaking time that is allotted.
Try writing your own speech with the Ladder method!
In conclusion, fellow delegates - there are only a few things that you should remember.
Practise is an important aspect to making a sleek presentation
Always try to establish your brand right from the start
Try your best to tell a story that makes sense and that you can carry out through the rest of the weekend.
Lesson 3 - Position Papers and Problem Solving
Public Speaking Tips
Writing and delivering speeches is an important aspect of the MUN simulation. Speeches help delegates convey the positions of their Member States, help build consensus and start formulating resolutions. Usually, the committee sets the speaking time, as the delegates make a motion to set the duration and if the motion has been seconded, the body then votes upon the suggestion.
Although speechmaking is very important to the MUN simulation, many delegates’ biggest fear is public speaking. It is essential that delegates come to the conference well prepared: meaning that they have completed prior research, know their country’s position, and even have objectives for a resolution.
Delegates should observe ‘decorum’ (i.e., be polite) when speaking. The opening of a speech should begin with: “Thank you- Honorable-Chair, Fellow delegates…”
An opening speech should include:
- Brief introduction of your country’s history of the topic
- Past actions taken by the U.N., Member States, NGOs, etc. to combat the problem
- The current situation of the topic
- Your country’s overall position on the topic/reason for position
- Possible ideas or goals for a resolution
- Whether there is room for negotiation on your position
As there are no set guidelines for how delegates should execute their speeches, delegates should decide how they feel most comfortable delivering their speeches. Some delegates utilize their position papers as their opening speeches, others just write out some key points, and many just speak without any aides. Since public speaking is a skill it is important to practice, practice, practice.
Remember the audience should always be considered when making a speech. Be aware of the audience and their diversity. The beginning of the speech must captivate the audience and motivate them to want to hear more. It must pertain to an audience’s interests.
Mr. Anthony Hogan, Model U.N. International, suggests the system of six “C’s” to improve your ability:
1. Confidence Confidence is portrayed by being as knowledgeable as possible on your subject and conveying this knowledge through the power of your voice and eyes. As a Model U.N. delegate, you are the authority and representative of your respective country. Research well and speak as if you know you are undoubtedly right. As the speaker, you must have confidence in yourself; otherwise, the audience will have little confidence in you.
2. Clear A speaker can do many things beforehand to assist them in speaking clearly. Write an outline of the topics that are going to be said, and follow it when speaking. Always speak slowly. This will allow the audience to hear everything that is said. Know your terminology well beforehand to avoid fumbling with words. Try to enunciate words properly.
3. Concise A good public speaker presents his/her points in a clean and clear-cut fashion. Unnecessary words and information should not be used to fill in the speech. The speech should be brief and to the point—say what you have to say. Do not ramble on about the topic in order to appear knowledgeable.
4. Constructive An effective public speech needs to be constructed properly. Start with a solid foundation that brings together all of your ideas, present your points, and then connect them by reviewing what was said. There should be an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. It is a known fact that three is a magic number. Say it once, say it and review it, then say it again. This method will help the audience to remember what was said.
5. “Con Passion” It is always important to speak from the heart—with passion—hence the Spanish term “con passion”. Always maintain eye contact with the audience. In doing so the audience will feel connected to you and your speech. This is what you want. You want to grab and hold the audience’s attention.
6. Critique It is better to critique than to criticize. Critiquing is constructive and allows for people to grow and improve. Criticizing brings peoples’ motivation and confidence down. A critique should be accepted positively since it is a tool that is used to strengthen one’s public speaking.
Some additional tips for effective public speaking
- ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY SPEECH FILLERS from your communication. Fillers are words and phrases such as “umm,” “well,” “it is sort-a like,” “it’s kinda like.” These take away from the message you want to convey. Some of the words and phrases to eliminate include: “you know,” “I think,” “I’m sorry,” “just,” “but,” “should,” “like,” “um,” and, “a,” etc.
- USE THE POWERFUL PAUSE. Do not be afraid to have a moment of silence between sentences. A pause, after thought, and prefacing a response to a question holds the attention of the listener.
- BREATHE from the diaphragm. Breathe deeply and often.
- PACE YOURSELF. Do not talk too fast or too slow.
- PHYSICALLY POSITION YOURSELF POWERFULLY. Be aware of your posture when you speak. Slouching, tilting your head, and crossing your arms or legs diminishes the message. Stand up straight, shoulders down, feet firmly planted, and knees unlocked.
- PROJECT YOUR PRESENCE. Your voice is the herald that carries your message. Speak from your diaphragm not your throat. Keep the sound in the low- to medium-range. This projects authority. Speak loudly enough to be easily heard. Focus on speaking with enthusiasm, and energy and create color with your voice.
- GESTURES. Do not be a statue. Consider occasionally exaggerating a gesture. Speaking from a platform is different than holding a one on one conversation. Use your whole body when you speak.
- CONNECT WITH YOUR AUDIENCE. Use a lot of eye contact. Speak directly to individual members of the audience. Do not take your eyes off your audience or focus on a point over their heads.
- COMMUNICATE CONFIDENCE. Make a conscious effort to project yourself confidently. This is as important as the message.
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