|Making MUN Speeches
A good speech is based not only on what you say but also on how you say it!
You are trying to persuade others! To be successful, you must attend to their feelings as well as their logic. To convince others that you have a solution to a specific problem or a valid point, you first, must get their attention. Then, using appropriate oral and body language, you must maintain their attention and make them want to act upon your instructions. Don’t forget: what you say and how you say it are equally important. In fact, many think the latter is actually far more important! Once you sit down, there will be many other speakers. How will you be remembered?
1) Humour is a dangerous technique in debate, particularly when discussing serious topics.
2) The machine-gun: use rapid-fire examples, piling up the evidence.
3) Begin with a quotation: a short quotation, proverb, saying, poem, etc. will often sum up the situation. If you can find it from someone in your represented country, the more appropriate it will be. If you are clever, you can use this technique repeatedly.
4) Begin with a startling statement. Make it lead directly to the problem. If you do not have a specific situation to refer to, begin with: "imagine that…."
5)Begin with a rhetorical question, something that the audience knows the answer to. Beware of this approach. It can be a weak start.
6)Begin with a specific example of the problem. Zero in on one concrete aspect and then build from there. In small-scale debates, you will have many more opportunities to speak. In large debates, however, you might not enjoy the same luxury.
7)Be aware of any time limits on your speech, and give yourself time for a strong finish before the chair cuts you off.
1)Demonstrate the extent of the problem. Use examples, statistics, and expert opinion.
2)Demonstrate the effects of the problem. How does it affect the people? Use examples and facts.
3)Demonstrate the causes of the problem. This might be difficult.
4)Demonstrate how the problem affects the others. Be vivid.
5)Present your solution or better, a joint solution from several delegates. Be clear about time, costs, people and other resources required. Try to show where similar solutions have worked.
6)Try to use visual images as opposed to dry expressions. Paint them a picture.
Demonstrate how your solution will:
reduce or eliminate the cause(s) of the problem
reduce or eliminate the symptoms
result in advantages
reduce costs; increase efficiency
7) Paint the opposite terrible scenario if your plan is not adopted.
8) Appeal for action and their motives of: fair play, desire to save, be helpful, pride, intelligence, community.
At the end of your speech, return to the topic sentence and revise it. Ask for their assistance by challenging them to do something, summarizing the important points, and indicating your own intention to do something. Close with a strong appeal for action.
As part of the research process prior to an MUN competition, delegates are often asked to submit a position paper. This is a brief overview, which clearly outlines the delegate's strategy vis-a-vis the committee issues and the country that is being represented. It indicates to both conference organizers and faculty advisors whether or not the student is on track. It is a valuable early warning sign if something is amiss. More importantly, whether the position paper is demanded or not, its use will serve as an important organizer from which the delegate may maintain consistent direction.
Long essay type position papers in which the student rewrites the history of the nation are counter-productive. A simple organizer that is succinct is needed. After all, it is basically employed as a road map.
Model United Nations Procedure:
For debate to run smoothly and efficiently, the committee's delegates must follow an agreed-upon procedure. This guide will explain some key concepts and outline a typical committee scenario.
In debate, there are three types of consideration:
1. Formal Consideration: Your country must be on the speaker's list in order to speak. There is usually a time limit for your speech, which may be adjusted (increased or decreased) as the debate proceeds.
2. Informal Consideration: Delegates simply raise their placards in order to be recognized in ad hoc fashion by the chair. The time limit for discussion may be flexible and at the discretion of the chair. Often, there will be a rapid-fire exchange from one country to another. The chair must moderate this sequence in order to maintain order. Informal discussion is a good technique to brainstorm, problem-solve, gather data and flesh out issues. The chair must ensure that delegates stay on track.
3.Caucus: This involves important discussion and arm-twisting in both large and small informal groups. The non-moderated discussion allows nations to actively lobby each other for ideas and support. There is normally a time limit set by the chair. If there are two delegates assigned per team, good strategy would dictate for one to lobby the actual bloc that the delegate is attached to and the other listen in on the strategy being discussed by the rest. Because of the latter strategy, some caucus groups will move to more private areas, outside the committee room. In full day and multi-day debates, informal "caucus" may take place anywhere including lunch or at night on the phone. In this fashion, delegates follow the actual practice employed by real diplomats. Although hard to monitor, a good conference will evaluate the performance of delegates during caucus. (see MUN Tools for more notes on country blocs.)
In debate, Points (of Order) largely determine procedure. The following are important types:
1. Point of Order: Used to correct a mistake in the parliamentary procedure.
2. Point of Parliamentary Procedure: Used to inquire about proper procedure. The chair will rule and explain.
3. Point of Information: Used to correct or ask some information.
4. Point of Personal Privilege: Used to alleviate a personal discomfort or distraction that impedes your participation in debate. (noise, room temperature, volume, movement, etc.)
When a delegate speaks during formal consideration, s/he may Yield time to another delegate. This is a difficult decision because most delegates wish to maximize their own speaking time. Sometimes, it is done as a favour to a like-minded country. Some delegates believe that a yield to another is a sign of weakness. You will have to determine if it fits within your overall strategy or not.
When speaking, Yields are as follows:
1. Yield to the Chair: The remaining time is left to the chair, and s/he will normally select the next speaker. Yielding one's remaining time to the chair prevents anyone from asking you tough questions, but it also indicates a weak position. If you want to avoid the hot seat yet curry favour, why not yield to a friendly country?
2. Yield to Questions: This is the preferred course. The speaker's remaining time is utilized for question(s) on the delegate's speech. Only questions on the speech are permitted. This demonstrates that the delegate is both secure and prepared to deal with harsh objections. Beware that by yielding your remaining time to questions from the floor, you allow adversaries to lead off with their own mini-speech preamble before they actually ask their question.
If you see this happening, immediately interrupt the mini-speech by saying to the chair: "Point of order, is there a question?" The chair will normally concur and demand a specific question. Another strategy that you might promote in your caucus is to encourage friendly nations to ask non-aggressive questions, which will provide you with yet another springboard for extended speeches.
3.Yield to Another Delegate: As above. The remaining time is given to another delegate.
If a delegate has said some extremely uncomplimentary things about your country, you might stand up and say: Right of Reply. Here, a delegate is given the opportunity to defend the nation's integrity after being slandered or misrepresented. A right of reply will not be granted in cases of personal (versus country) slander. Right of reply is granted at the chair's discretion, and should not be abused. If the chair grants such an action, the offending party will be asked if they wish to apologize. Slandering your fellow delegates does not impress either them or the chair.
Resolutions: This is what the committee is aiming at, a particular recommended course of action that will adequately address some specific issue. The proposed resolution forms the basis of debate.
Committees should not try to pass a resolution no matter what. The resolution must be viable. Because there are multiple interests and countries, this becomes a difficult process. A resolution can be the product of a productive council. It outlines the recommendations suggested by the committee. Often, a resolution, in order to pass, will be changed or amended a great deal such that the majority can live with it. If you are provided with a ready-made resolution for debate at your conference, be aware that there will be many weaknesses deliberately built into it to encourage this process of amendment.
Voting: In the Security Council, there are five veto powers. They are the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russian Federation, and China. These nations may arbitrarily vote 'no' to a resolution, and it is automatically defeated. In all other bodies, there are no veto powers, and you will operate on a simple majority. If a permanent member country might veto your resolution, your strategy might be to try and persuade that country to abstain in the vote. Otherwise, in the other committees, everyone has one vote and is therefore, a potential ally for a simple majority. There is no advantage in other committees to being a permanent member. In fact, they are often greatly outnumbered by other blocs.
Committee Procedure: A Typical Flow Chart
For the novice to get a better idea of how things actually happen in committee, the following is the sort of procedural dynamic that will typically occur:
1) Motion to open debate. Some chairs will simply declare debate open. If this is the case, there is no need to utilize this motion.
2) Motion to set agenda. The topics are usually set ahead of time. If there are multiple topics, a speaker for and a speaker for and against are required. A vote is taken, and the majority rules.
3) Motion to open the speaker's list. All nations wishing to be on the speaker's list raise their placards or write a note to the chair.
4) Motion to set a time limit on speeches. Used in formal consideration only.
At this point procedure can move in many directions. For example, after a few speakers, the following may occur:
5) Remain in formal consideration (on speaker's list)
6) Motion to move into informal consideration. If the latter, after much discussion, there are many ideas, therefore -
7) If in informal consideration, motion to move back into formal consideration.
8) You might motion for a caucus (usually 5 -10 minutes). The purpose would be to further develop the ideas into a working paper, and to obtain sponsors in support of these ideas. A working paper is the beginning of a resolution. There might be several working papers being developed by different groups at the same time. Your task is to bring together those that are similar into a larger more powerful bloc that will enjoy greater chance at success. (votes)
9) After the caucus, the council is back in formal consideration. Someone may motion to move into informal consideration, or you will remain in formal consideration. (Speaker's list)
10) After collaboration, the working paper needs to be presented to the chair with the sponsoring countries listed. Often, you will be given a minimum number of sponsors to obtain before the chair will look at your working paper.
11) If the chair deems your working paper to be in order, indicate that your nation wishes to introduce it as a resolution before the council.
12) Once the chair has approved the working paper (proper format, spelling and grammar), the chair will allow for it to be introduced.
13) In order to introduce a working paper, the council must be in formal consideration. The speaker's list will be utilized.
14) The nation that led the writing of the working paper will read it to the council. The time limit is suspended for the duration of the reading.
15) The chair acknowledges that the working paper is now a resolution. Debate continues over the resolution until it is ready to be finally voted upon. When the resolution has been amended, and is meets the satisfaction of the council,
16) Motion to enter voting procedure. A speaker for and a speaker against are required at this time. Simple majority rules. Another way to end debate and force a vote is to move that the speaker's list be closed, which effectively stops debate by preventing additional countries to speak. The chair will not normally allow this if considered premature and much too early in the debate.
At this time, there are several motions that could be made.
a) Motion to divide question. This motion allows the council to separate the operative clauses into sections. For example, if a resolution were composed of seven clauses, each recommending some specific course of action, each section would then be voted on separately. This might be a last ditch effort by some nations to vote down one particular clause (or more) that they cannot live with.
b) Roll call vote. Each nation is called upon in alphabetical order. Each nation may say yes, no, abstain or pass. If a pass is taken, the chair returns to that delegate. At this point, the delegate may say yes or no. Abstentions are no longer permitted.
If the resolution is passed, a new topic is selected. If the resolution is not passed, the resolution fails and does not exist. The topic goes back into debate. Try not to rush through your topic merely to pass a resolution. Often, because of the nature of the topic and a complete lack of consensus, a resolution simply cannot be passed. Students must accurately represent the interests of their foreign country. You are no longer good-natured Canadians. You might be imperialistic, socialist, rich or poor. You might be one of many world faiths including those that you don't necessarily agree with. Your country might treat women as equals to men or keep them servile. You might sanction terrorism or look the other way at it. The key is that you must execute an accurate portrayal. In multi-day conferences, one topic might be discussed for many hours and several days. Keep in mind that some of these U.N. issues have been argued for years, not mere days. It's up to you to be creative yet not sacrifice your country's interests. You will be evaluated on how well you can perform this difficult task.
Abstention- abstaining from a vote means to withdraw from voting on a resolution instead of giving a “yes” or “no” answer.
Amendments- are made to resolutions. Friendly amendments require the support of the sponsors in order for changes to be made. Unfriendly amendments can be initiated by anyone in the committee but require supporters and a majority vote.
BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement)- what if your preferred solution cannot be accomplished or agreed upon by the committee? Each delegate should have a BATNA on each issue that will be debated in order to promote compromise and co-operation.
Bloc- a group of countries that form a logical combination because of geographical, economic, or cultural considerations (eg. G8, African bloc, Arab League).
Caucus- a forum where the rules of debate are suspended and delegates are able to gather in groups and freely discuss and write with one another (for others a bathroom or socializing break). Usually some of a committee’s most productive work is accomplished during caucuses.
Comments- if a delegate doesn’t yield his/her time during a speech in formal debate, the chair may recognize two delegates to make comments specifically on that speech.
Dividing the Question- once in voting procedure, a motion to divide the question means splitting up operative clauses to be voted on separately (eg. Vote on Clauses 1 and 3 together, but the rest individually). This is useful if you agree with one part of a resolution but not the whole thing.
EU (European Union)- an economic and political union created under the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, it comprises most of Western Europe and Germany, and is poised for future expansion into Central and Eastern Europe. Most customs regulations in Europe have now been abolished and a single currency is now in place, the Euro. As a political unit it has formidable power vis-à-vis the United States.
Foreign Aid- money given by one country to another for humanitarian or developmental purposes. It plays a key role in shaping foreign policy.
Foreign Policy- the attitudes and interests of a state towards external issues. Foreign policy can be influenced by a variety of factors, i.e. Military strength, trading partners, history, domestic government.
Formal Debate- the committee follows a speaker’s list, and each speaker is given a strict time limit within which to make their point. They must also formally yield the floor to questions, the chair, or another delegate. Rules regarding motions, voting and “right of reply” are enforceable only in formal consideration, although at COWAC conferences informal debate is preferred for the most part.
G8 (Group of Eight)- a body comprised of eight of the world’s most powerful nations: Canada, the U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Japan, Germany, and Russia.
Informal Debate- can be entered into by a simple motion and majority vote. The chair recognizes delegates wishing to speak, but there are no yields, time limits or opportunities to directly question one another. However, it offers the chance to proceed quicker through various issues that arise during debate.
ICJ (International Court of Justice)- the ICJ is a body designed to resolve legal and territorial disputes between states.
Lobbying- refers to informal caucusing between a small group of delegates, usually outside the committee room while debate is still in progress. One may wish to lobby another delegate for support on a resolution or policy option, but use with caution. A delegation of two or more can afford to spare someone outside the room much more easily then a solo debater.
Motions- most motions can only be made in formal debate. In fact, the only motion permitted in informal debate is to move to formal debate. Motions must be made to open, close, postpone, or adjourn debate, to set the agenda, table the topic, enact right of reply, an caucus.
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)- security organization created in 1949 by Western powers to provide a collective force against the Soviet Union. In the post-Cold War era it has taken on new responsibilities in peacekeeping and enforcement of international law (Bosnia, Kosovo).
NGO’s (Non-governmental Corporations)- are organizations or associations that are not associated with a specific country or international political organization. Their aims can be broad (World Vision International, Amnesty International, Greenpeace) or quite specific (Doctors Without Borders) in their activities and goals. The United Nations has a history of working closely with NGO’s on issues, especially relating to humanitarian projects.
Non-Members- delegates who sit in a committee and are allowed to speak but don’t have voting privileges.
OAS (Organization of American States)- an international political organization comprised of North and South American states.
Operative Clauses- are written in resolutions following the preamble. These numbered clauses set out actual solutions and initiatives for the committee to undertake.
Placard- is your key prop at all times. Just be sure not to replace it with your own creation, or to wave it hysterically while someone else is speaking.
Points- can be raised in formal or informal debate. There are two points that can interrupt a speech:
Personal Privilege: if there’s too much noise, heat/cold, etc…
Order: this point can be raised if a rule has been violated.
Two other points also exist:
Parliamentary Inquiry: a question on the rules and procedure of debate.
Information: general questions to the chair.
Position Paper- a written statement by a delegate on a particular agenda topic, outlining one’s foreign policy, proposed solutions and alternatives.
Preambulatory Clauses- these clauses go at the beginning of a resolution, and act to introduce the issue (concerns, previous UN actions, etc..). They are not numbered.
Rhetoric- using language designed to persuade that is often extravagant and laboured. In MUN debating chairs often penalize delegates who rely on rhetoric instead of making substantive speeches.
Right of Reply- This can only be asked for in formal debate, if a delegate feels another debater has insulted and/or slandered their country or them personally. It is easily the most over-attempted and misused motion in MUN debating.
Roll Call- a motion made in voting procedure to individually call out each country’s name for their vote. A delegate can vote for, vote against, abstain, or pass. A country that passes will be asked again at the end of the list, but cannot abstain.
Security Council- the most powerful body within the UN, it is comprised of fifteen members, five of whom are permanent (see Veto Powers). It is responsible for the UN’s peace and security policy, dealing with conflict through peacekeeping, sanctions and other measures.
Speaker’s List- In formal debate the chair follows the speaker’s list to recognize delegates. Your country’s name can’t be on it more than once at a time.
Sponsor/Co-sponsor- Working papers and resolutions require sponsors (the main authors) and in some cases co-sponsors. Being a co-sponsor does not necessarily mean being in support of the ideas presented, you may just want to see them debated in front of the rest of the committee.
UN (United Nations)- a good idea to learn this one. The international organization that was created in 1945 from the legacy of World War Two to promote and protect international peace and security, co-operation, and human rights worldwide. It’s legitimacy comes from the UN Charter, with its major bodies including the Security Council, the General Assembly, and the various committees that comprise the Economic and Social Council.
Veto Powers- the five permanent members of the Security Council (U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China) have the right to single-handedly veto a resolution by voting no.
Working Paper- sometimes referred to as an “idea paper” also, although working paper is the preferred formal term. It is drawn up in the form of a resolution, but its status as a “working paper” allows for easily made amendments that do not require the support of the entire committee, only the sponsors themselves. Working papers are one step below being a resolution, and many are often combined into one. Their overall purpose is to set out specific solutions or policy stances on an issue that can be debated within the committee.
Yield- In formal debate the delegate must yield his/her time a the beginning of their speech in one of three ways:
-to the chair: once the speech is over the chair takes the floor and moves on with the speaker’s list.
-to questions: delegates can ask questions to the speaker for his/her remaining time. (A recommended practice)
-to another delegate: another speaker uses up the remaining time to give a speech, but cannot yield themselves.
The United Nations Website
The UN Development Programme
The UN Economic and Social Committee
The UN Environment Programme
The UN General Assembly
The UN International Court of Justice
The UN International Law
The UN Population Fund
The UN Refugee Agency
The UN Security Council
Other Important Non-UN Actors
Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC)
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)
East African Community
Human Rights Watch
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
International Monetary Fund
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
World Trade Organization